When it comes to your aircraft propeller, knowledge is power. In addition to our helpful resources and manuals, Hartzell Propeller’s technical team is always available to answer your questions about propeller maintenance, overhauls, repairs, and safety. Today, we want to shed some light on one of the most common questions we receive: “When should I replace my aircraft propeller?”

Hartzell’s aircraft propellers are engineered to have a long service life. But just like any component on your aircraft, there inevitably comes a time when propeller replacement is necessary. So, how do you know when your aircraft propeller needs to be replaced or upgraded?

Here are three situations where a propeller replacement makes sense:

#1: Your aircraft propeller is damaged due to a strike or corrosion

Some propeller damage is obvious. Unfortunately, prop strikes occur all the time due to hangar hazards, gear-up landings, and even rogue wildlife on the runway. Remember, never try to straighten bent propeller blades on your own. Take your aircraft to a reputable propeller repair facility to assess whether propeller blade repair is possible, or if a total propeller replacement is needed.

Other types of propeller damage are not so apparent. While external corrosion is visible on the propeller blades, internal corrosion is far more insidious. Left undetected, internal corrosion can destroy the components within the propeller hub and render the propeller unairworthy. This type of corrosion is often only detectable during a complete propeller overhaul.

#2: Your aircraft propeller has reached its operational life limit

It’s critically important to pay attention to your propeller manufacturer’s published overhaul limits. Flying your aircraft with a propeller beyond its intended service life isn’t just inadvisable; it’s potentially dangerous. TBO limits are defined in terms of both flight hours and calendar time, whichever comes first. If you have a Hartzell propeller, you can find detailed information about the propeller overhaul limits for your specific model in Hartzell Service Letter HC-SL-61-61Y. If your prop is due for an overhaul, visit Hartzell’s world-class propeller service center in Piqua, Ohio, or one of our Recommended Service Facilities (RSF) located around the world.

While the cost of a propeller overhaul varies by model, it can add up quickly, especially if you need to replace the propeller blades and multiple internal components due to damage, seal aging, and corrosion within the hub. In cases like this, you may discover there isn’t a significant price difference between overhauling your legacy prop and upgrading to a new-generation design. Of course, you don’t need to have an upcoming overhaul to upgrade your old prop, but it can be an opportune time to consider a propeller conversion. (Keep reading!)

#3: You want to upgrade to a higher-performance propeller

The ability to make performance modifications is one of the best aspects of owning an airplane. If you’re thinking about enhancing your aircraft, an aircraft propeller conversion is one of the smartest investments you can make!

Here are some good reasons to consider upgrading your propeller:

  • You want to try something new. Maybe you’re planning to fly into backcountry strips, change from wheels to floats or skis, or make more cross-country trips. You’ll need a prop that can match your mission!
  • You want to improve performance. An upgraded propeller can offer performance advantages in a number of areas, from takeoff and climb to cruise speed.
  • You want to make your airplane quieter. Switching to a new propeller can help to limit vibration in flight, which helps to reduce noise and provide greater comfort to passengers.
  • You want to improve ramp appeal. Sleek, new propeller blades are a surefire way to add instant ramp appeal and increase the value of your airplane.

Learn more about Hartzell Propeller’s Top Prop conversion program.