Aircraft Propeller Removal and Installation

Propellers serve numerous aircraft for their propulsion generation, and keeping them well maintained is crucial for long service lives and optimal performance. When propellers require various forms of maintenance or replacement, it is important that one knows the correct procedures for both removal and installation. While one should always refer to specific manufacturer specifications and instructions for how to properly remove and install propellers, there are some general procedures that most assemblies will follow.

When beginning the removal process, the first step is to remove the spinner dome. This process should always follow specific spinner removal procedures as dictated by the manufacturer, similar to other assemblies. If there is a safety wire on the propeller mounting studs, it should be cut and removed. Once removed, the propeller assembly should be supported with a sling. In the instance that the propeller has been dynamically balanced and is to be reinstalled, markings should be placed on the propeller hub and engine flange for the ease of orienting the assembly correctly. After supporting the propeller assembly and marking it as necessary, the four mounting bolts of the engine bushings can be removed, and then the two mounting nuts and studs should also be unscrewed. If the instance of removing the propeller falls between overhauls, certain fasteners may be reused as long as they are not either damaged or corroded. Utilizing the sling while removing the assembly is also beneficial for protecting mounting studs. Once all aforementioned steps have been followed, the propeller is placed onto a cart.

The installation of the propeller and its various parts can often be more intensive, due to the fact that there is more emphasis on proper cleaning and tightening for all sections of the assembly. The flange propeller will typically have six studs oriented to create a four-inch circle, and two studs will act as dowel pins in order to index the propeller and transfer torque in relation to the engine crankshaft. In order to confirm where the dowel pin locations are for a specific propeller assembly, one may refer to the propeller model that is provided on the propeller hub. Once all previous steps have been met, the spinner pre-installation steps specified by the manufacturer should be adhered to, and then both the propeller and engine flange should be cleaned with the use of a quick dry stoddard solvent or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). Next, an O-ring may be placed within the O-ring groove of the propeller hub bore, and the O-ring may be already installed if the propeller is a factory new assembly.

For the preparation of installing the propeller assembly, equipment such as a trolley crane hoist or other support devices should be used for moving the assembly carefully up towards the aircraft engine mounting flange. During the installation of the propeller to the engine flange, one should always make sure that the dowel studs of the propeller flange are correctly aligned with the engine mounting flange for secure attachment. With correct alignment, the propeller may be attached as is or turned 180 degrees. As is with any step of the installation or removal process, one should always refer to their specific manuals or documentation from the manufacturer to ensure proper orientation.

During the installation of the propeller assembly and all of its related equipment and parts, having clean and dry surfaces is very important as to avoid too much preload of the mounting flange. Additionally, fasteners should always be provided sufficient and equal torque, and nuts should be installed evenly to protect the hub. By following the correct handling procedures and steps for propeller assemblies, they can perform efficiently and safely for the benefit of pilots and operators.

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October 5, 2021

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