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Aircraft Corrosion Control &

For Aero Officers & Technicians
July 2010
What is Corrosion?
It is a electro chemical deterioration of
metal because of its chemical reaction
with the surrounding environment
Is it a Problem?
Corrosion is most often a slow process of metal
deterioration takes considerable time period
Eg Pitting, Exfoliation
Also sometimes occurs very quickly (In days or
hours) - Can leads to catastrophic failures
Eg Stress Corrosion cracks, Corrosion fatigue
Why is it Important?
Aging SLAF aircrafts fleet over 25 -30 years
Kafir Year of Mfc 1979 1984
Mi 24/35 1985 1996
Bell 412 1984 1997
Bell 212 1979 -1984
Mig 27 1981 -1985
Corrosion is unavoidable one of the most
critical maintenance problem (Aircraft structures
& Ground Equipment)
Because metals are unstable in their refined forms
(Tends to revert back to its natural forming state)
Then What?
It is important as technical officers &
To inspect corrosion frequently
To identify Corrosion types
To Treat Corrosion
These are the responsibilities of the operator
Should be accomplished based on
Manufacturers recommendation
Common advisory circular
Operators own program
Corrosion Control & Prevention
Program (CCPP)
Is a Preventive Maintenance and control
Is required to prevent In-flight mishap or
excessive down time for repairs
Effectiveness Depends directly on
operating Environment
Exposed to salt
Atmospheric Industrial Pollutions
Over water operations
Corrosion Control & Prevention
Program (CCPP) contd
Requirements to prevent corrosion
Constant Cycle of cleaning
Operational preservation
Corrosion Control & Prevention
Program (CCPP)contd
The basic philosophy of CCPP
Should adequately trained staff
Knowledge of corrosion identification techniques
Emphasis on the responsibility of program
Inspections on Schedule basis
Aircraft washing at regular scheduled intervals
Routine cleaning of all exposed unpainted surfaces
Keep drain holes free
Inspection removal & re application of preservation compounds
Prompt Corrosion treatment after detection
Accurate record keeping
Use appropriate materials, equipment etc
Corrosion Theory
Chemical Definitions
Element: Any substance that cannot be separated into different substances by
ordinary chemical methods.

Atom: The smallest unit of an element. Consists of three parts, the proton (positive
charge), electron (negative charge), and neutron (no charge).

Electron: A negatively charged particle. An electric current charge occurs when
electrons are forced to move through metal conductors. Electrons flow through
water solutions only in the presence of ions.

Ions: Atoms or groups of atoms bound together, which are positively or negatively
charged. An electric current occurs when ions are forced to move through water
solutions. Ions cannot move through metal conductors.

Electrolyte: A liquid (usually water) solution containing ions. Salt water is an

Ionization: The formation of one or more ions by the addition of electrons to or the
removal of electrons from an electrically neutral atomic or molecular configuration
Four components
ANODE: A metal, which has a tendency to
CATHODE: A dissimilar material, or a
protected part of the same metal. Its size
(large or small) determines rate of corrosive
METAL PATH: An electrical contact, or
conductor, that allows transfer of electrons
from anode to cathode.
ELECTROLYTE: Any form of liquid that
contains ions and conducts electricity.
electrolyte is the only factor we can control
Corrosion Theory
It is a natural Phenomenon
Attacks metal by chemical or Electro chemical
Convert metal into metallic compound Oxide,
Hydroxide, Sulfate.
Erosion is not a corrosion. It is a metal
destruction by mechanical action
Noble Metals (Gold, Platinum) do no corrode
Elimination of ANY of these conditions will
stop Corrosion
Application of a paint film on the metal
Passive filming (invisible Oxide film)
Corrosion products are tightly bound to the
corroding metal e.g. Stainless Steel,
ALL corrosive attacks begins on the
Surface of metal. Then go inside
Paint coating can MASK the initial stages
of corrosion Inspect paint for Blisters,
Flakes, Chips or Lumps
Corrosive products generally X5 higher
than the original volume of material.
Factors influencing Corrosion
Type of metal
Most active metals (Which tend to lose electrons
easily) corrode easily eg; Mg, Al
Most noble metals (do not lose electrons easily) do
not corrode easily eg; Gold, Silver
Heat treatment & Grain direction
Leaves stresses inside the material
Allows moisture at saturation in air
Presence of electrolyte
Hard water, dirt, Salt, battery fluid, engine exhaust
gases will increase the rate of corrosion
Factors influencing Corrosion
Temperature accelerate chemical reaction
Anode & Cathode surface area (in galvanic
Mechanical stresses left on the material- during
manufacturing processes (machining, forming,
welding or heat treatments)
Presence of biological organisms
Molds, Fungi & other living organism grow on damp

Types/Forms of Corrosion
Uniform Etch Corrosion
Direct chemical Attack on the metal surface
Involves ONLY the metal surface
Initially a dull surface later become rough
Discolouration due to temperature is not a UE
This type of corrosion appears to be uniform
because of the microscopic anodes and
cathodes are constantly shifting from one
area to another

Types/Forms of Corrosion Contd
Pitting Corrosion
Most common in Al & Mg Alloys
First noticeable as a white or gray powder
Once removed tiny pits or holes can be seen
This localized corrosion is rapid and severe
because its molecular construction is
comprised of large passive cathodes and small
active anodes
Types/Forms of Corrosion Contd
Galvanic Corrosion
Occurs when two dissimilar metals contact with
Recognizable by the presence of build up of corrosion
at the joint between metals (mainly anode)- very
common around fasteners
Surface area of the anode is smaller than the cathode
Rapid & Severe
Greater the difference in activity table, the faster the
corrosion occurs
Aluminum & Gold faster
Aluminum & Cadmium slower

Types/Forms of Corrosion Contd
Concentration cell/ Crevice Corrosion
Most commonly found in faying (overlapping) areas
The electrolyte seeps into crevices due to capillary
It becomes stagnated and create potential difference
of Oxygen and iron
It has Three categories
Metal Iron Concentration cell corrosion just outside the
crevice, usually occurs in similar meals
Oxygen Concentration Cell corrosion occurs within the
crevice, usually formed in metal to non metal couples
Active Passive Cell occurs on metals with oxide films
(passive films). Deposit of dirt of contaminants will
deteriorate the oxide film
Types/Forms of Corrosion Contd
Filiform corrosion
It is a special form of oxygen concentration cell corrosion
occurs on metal surfaces having an organic coating system
corrosion actually takes place between the metal surface and the
worm like traces
occurs on aluminum, magnesium, and steel and may lead to
more serious corrosion
Occurs due to paint deterioration due to the Sun or aging
more prominent when the relative humidity is between 78-90%
and the surface is slightly acidic
It starts at breaks in the coating system, such as scratches, and
cracks around fasteners and seams
Types/Forms of Corrosion Contd
Fretting Corrosion
Is a special form of concentration cell
corrosion that occurs in combination with
surface wear
The corrosion products increase the surface
wear and the wear exposes more active metal
to corrode
occurs on faying surfaces of close tolerance
parts under high pressure
Types/Forms of Corrosion Contd
Occurs AROUND the grains
High strength Al Alloys (2014,
7075) are more susceptible
Grain boundary & Grain center
can react with each other as
Anode & Cathode
MOST Dangerous types of
Unnoticed during Visual
Detected ONLY through NDT
7075 T-6 Aluminum Alloy

Forms of Corrosion
Exfoliation Corrosion-
Advance form of intergranular corrosion
Surface grains of metal are lifted by the forces
of expanding corrosion products just bellow
the surface
Most prone in wrought products as
Extrusions, Thick sheets, thin plates
Occurs ALONG the grain boundaries

Corrosion and Mechanical Factors
Two major Mechanical factors which aggravate corrosion
Residual stresses (with in the part)
Cyclic loads applied (Outside the part)
Three types
Stress Corrosion cracks intergranular cracks
Corrosion fatigue combine effect of cyclic loadsand
Fretting Corrosion cracks occurs at two highly
loaded surfaces
Erosion by sand or rain remove surface protective films
and leads to corrosion
Stress Corrosion & Fatigue
Corrosion Cracks identification


Fatigue Cracks
Stress Cracks
along the grain
Common Corrosive Agents
Salt Substances
Common Corrosive Agents
Most destructive is Sulfuric (Battery Acid)
Halogen Acids (Hydrofluoric, Hydrochloric)
Nitrous Oxide compounds
Organic Acids (Urine)

Common Corrosive Agents
Not corrosive as Acids
Al & Mg Alloys are prone to corrosive attack
Washing soda, Potash (wood ashes), Lime
(cement dust)
Good electrolyte
Some stainless steels are resistance to attack
Mg & Al alloys are highly Vulnerable to attack
Common Corrosive Agents
High humidity
Marine Precipitation
Acid Rains
Contaminated with industrial wastes
Salt in natural water
Inspection Requirements
Should be a part of a routine maintenance job
(i.e. daily, pre flight)
Inspection is a continuous need
Arrange inspection in such a way to minimize
down time
Always Refer manufactures recommendations
If trouble areas observed-pay more attention
Concern of the area of operation (salty, dry etc)
In addition to routine inspections introduce
special inspection frequencies

Inspection Requirements Contd
If aircraft operate in sever conditions
more frequent inspections (Eg: 15 days)
Aircraft should be washed prior to ANY
Instruct technicians with specific
objectives and areas to look for corrosion
If utilization is low, corrosion inspection
should be based on calendar (not hrs)

Corrosion Inspection
Primary approach
Should be regular & Schedule basis
All inspection should starts with thorough
Visual inspection
Detail inspection
Done through NDT
General Safety Procedure
Handling solvents, special cleaners, surface activation
materials (alodine )
Avoid prolong breathing of vapours (use respirators, adequate
Never add water to acid, always add acid to water
Mixing chemicals as per manufacturers advice
Make access to emergency water source
Avoid prolong usage or contact of solvent
Wash immediately if solvents are body contacted
Do not eat or keep food in close areas (will absorb)
Wash hands before eating or smoke
Ensure proper disposal of waste material