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Aircraft Escape slides | Aviation Week

14 May 2024

Escape slides incorporate new material technology, resulting in lighter weight, greater durability, and longer inspection time intervals. But what exactly are the new technologies being used, how do they affect cost-efficiency, and are technicians seeing any new maintenance issues related to these changes?

In a recent article for Aviation Week, Paul Seidenman and David Spanovich talk to experts from OEM and MRO environments to discuss how escape slide technology is evolving.  

The team speaks to Louis Mallette, President of AJW Technique, the Group’s state-of-the-art MRO facility in Montreal, to ask what changes MROs are seeing. 

Mallette observes that While the overall slide architecture has not fundamentally changed over the years, we have seen the use of improved and lighter materials, which has enabled extended maintenance intervals in addition to reduced weight.  

The AJW Technique President continues, noting that the greater reliability of new materials coupled with the use of modern LED escape slide lighting systems—in place of incandescent bulbs—has contributed to an overall reduction of maintenance costs for slides produced during the last five years.Unless disturbed or mishandled, the slides normally stay on-wing until their scheduled maintenance is due,” he says. 

 

Aircraft Escape slides | Aviation Week

Mallette also reports that newer materials are replacing the heavy, rubber-coated fabrics which have been the long-time standard ingredient of escape slide fabrication. The thinner, modern materials are lighter and equally durable.Compared to the older materials, they appear to be at least as resistant to damage and wear over time,” he says. 

Elaborating, Mallette explains that newer slides are generally constructed of lightweight, high-strength fabrics with reflective polyether urethane or elastomer coatings which offer a heat-reflective surface and increased resistance to punctures, tears, and abrasions. This provides the necessary strength and reliability, making the slides easier to deploy and handle during emergency evacuations, while offering operators substantial financial benefits 

Slide-containing packboards are now typically fabricated with composites, which also contribute to reduced weight and higher strength, says Mallette.  

Asked if the new fabric technology has also addressed escape slide maintenance issues, Mallette says that technicians still tend to see small tears around the folds and seams caused by the age of the materials. “These are vulnerable areas and the porosity in these areas can lead to leakages which affect the slide’s ability to maintain pressure over time,” he says. 

However, he concludes that The newer materials, which are more malleable, tend to reduce stresses around the folds and seams. As such, we do expect this to be beneficial over time.” 

Contact AJW Technique today to transform your emergency escape system maintenance. 

 

 

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