The Barden Corporation’s manufacturing plant in Plymouth is now an authorised diagnosis and repair facility for aerospace-approved bearings, providing fast turn around times for customers.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has now approved The Barden Corporation’s manufacturing plant in Plymouth as an authorised Diagnosis and Repair facility for aerospace-approved bearings.
The plant’s new EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) Part-145 approval means that Barden can offer customers rapid turn around times for aerospace-approved bearings, including Level 1 inspection and Level 2 refurbishment.
Brian Williams, director of quality, aerospace division, Barden Corporation, comments, “We’re not talking about standard, catalogue industrial bearings here. These are super precision aerospace-approved bearings, where full traceability is critical. The bearings typically carry a form of passport around with them at all times and are subject to very strict, highly regulated aircraft maintenance programmes.
The EASA Part-145 approval enables us to service the commercial aerospace markets in Europe, where there is now a demand for fast turn around times on key aircraft components. This includes bearings for small engines, gearboxes and auxiliary power units.”
If aircraft OEMs have no replacement bearings in stock, they can now send used bearings to Barden’s new diagnosis and repair (D&R) facility in Plymouth. As Williams explains, “Initially, we would strip down the bearing and examine it for signs of wear. If the bearing is within acceptable limits it is then cleaned and reassembled prior to being packed and returned to the customer.”
He cites a typical refurbishment example, “Some of the bearings have a silver-plated cage. The coating is sacrificial and so can eventually wear through. Provided that the wear is within acceptable limits, we can strip and re-apply the silver coating; thus avoiding additional delays associated with re-manufacture. Other examples of refurbishment include the re-polishing of the bearing raceways and replacing the rolling elements.”
“If the bearings are recoverable, we can refurbish them in rapid time, normally within seven days. This is significantly faster than the customer having to wait for a replacement bearing, which can take anything from 12 to 24 months.”
“For the customer, the inspection and refurbishment of the bearings is not really about cost. Lead time is far more important, especially when you consider the cost of keeping an aircraft on the ground rather than in the sky.”
“Maintenance programmes for aircraft engine components and APUs are becoming increasingly important, as airlines try to maximise the life of their existing equipment. In general, aircraft are getting larger in size and are flying for longer periods, which mean maintenance is more frequent. Therefore, rapid turnaround times for diagnosis and repair of aerospace-approved bearings is becoming even more critical,” he adds.
Gaining the EASA Part-145 approval has required more than 12 months of hard work that involved planning a new dedicated diagnosis and repair (D&R) station at Plymouth and visits from CAA auditors. The Plymouth plant now has a self-contained, access-controlled, 1,800 square feet D&R station, with storage racks, working surfaces and inspection equipment. At present, the station can handle bearings up to 300mm outside diameter. Phase two of the project will see the D&R station expanded to include dedicated receiving, cleaning and measuring equipment.
The service is not only applicable to aerospace-approved bearings, says Williams. “Any industry in which regulatory approvals are high or where traceability of the bearings is required, we can help. This might include bearings for rail applications or nuclear installations.”
“In addition, the services are not just applicable to bearings manufactured by Barden – as long as the customer has approved technical data and a repair scheme for us to work to, then we can provide the Diagnosis and Repair service.”