A laboratory project to enhance wood construction and repair understanding in a Part 147 school

Blake Rifner Shipp, Brian J Kozak


American aircraft have always incorporated wood as a primary structural material (FAA, 2018).  Although metal has become the leading material in civil aircraft production, approximately 5% of the fleet still uses wood within structural components of the airframe (FAA, 2018).  In order to maintain safe, airworthy aircraft, Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificated mechanics must be sufficiently trained in methods and practices approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The current training requirements for A&P schools list, at minimum, introductory teaching and understanding of wood building and maintenance concepts, but no hands-on projects or technique evaluation (14 C.F.R § 147, 2018). This lack of hands-on education may leave A&P students unprepared as they enter their careers. Due to this discrepancy in training minimums and experience expectations, a new project was developed that better instructed students in the construction, inspection, and repair of wood structures by providing them hands-on experience.  This multi-week project involved students, in groups of four, building a 1/8 scale, sitka spruce truss fuselage of a light general aviation aircraft. Students were required to use method, techniques, and practices acceptable to the FAA for wood construction and inspection. Upon completion of their build, students were evaluated for the quality of their workmanship and adherence to design data. Finally, students were asked to anonymously self-evaluate their perceived gains in wood building and inspection techniques.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22488/okstate.19.100210


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