Aircraft propellers are one of the hardest-working components on an airplane. At the same time, they’re also one of the most underappreciated!
Sure, propellers don’t ask for much, but if you pay attention, your prop can tell you a lot. Take a hint and look for these signs that your aircraft propeller is trying to warn you about a potential problem:
#1: GREASE OR OIL LEAKS
If you notice grease or oil leaking from around the propeller hub or streaks on the propeller blades, get it checked out by a certified prop shop right away. Unexpected grease or oil leaks are often warning signs that the seals within the propeller hub have finally given way, or even that the hub itself is getting ready to fail.
#2: A SUDDEN ONSET OF VIBRATION
No matter if it’s coming from the engine, propeller, or spinner, powerplant vibration is a serious cause for concern. If the vibration is sudden and seems to increase with power, land as soon as you can.
Take your airplane to a qualified mechanic to determine exactly where the vibration is coming from. Having your aircraft propeller dynamically balanced is one way to reduce excessive vibration and protect your engine from wear and fatigue.
#3: SURFACE DAMAGE TO THE PROPELLER BLADES
Pre- and post-flight inspections are an essential way to spot signs of damage developing on your propeller blades. Start by running your hand over the leading and trailing edges of the prop to feel for any small imperfections. Then, perform a visual inspection, looking for nicks, dings, dents, and scratches.
If you notice anything abnormal when inspecting your propeller, don’t wait — have it addressed by a maintenance professional right away. No matter how “minor” the damage may seem, ignoring it is a big mistake. Under the high stress of flight, nicks can develop into a dangerous crack in the propeller blade. Blade cracks can grow rapidly on subsequent flights, potentially leading to catastrophic propeller blade failure. As they say, preflight like your life depends on it, because it very well could!
FIND A REPUTABLE PROP SHOP
When you know what your airplane propeller is trying to tell you — and what to look for — you can avoid many prop problems altogether!
Whether you choose the Hartzell Service Center or one of our Recommended Service Facilities, you can be confident that your airplane propeller overhaul, maintenance, or repair will be prompt, professional, and performed with the utmost safety and quality.