Aircraft fabric fasteners are the materials utilized for covering open structures in aircraft. All the supporting materials used during aircraft fabric covering and repairs have to be approved by the FAA, ensuring their airworthiness and reliability. In this blog, we will talk about FAA-approved aircraft fabric fasteners commonly used for fabric covering and their benefits.
This tape is generally used on rib caps and sharp protrusions, among other areas. Anti-chafe tapes help in providing an even surface and stop the fabric from getting damaged. This self-adhesive cloth tape is used on the aircraft before the fabric is applied and after it is cleaned, primed, and inspected.
Reinforcing tape is typically applied on rib caps after installing the fabric covering. Reinforcing tape is used in aircraft for an added layer of security, and it also makes the area stronger for connecting the fabric to the ribs.
Rib Bracing Tape
When used on wing ribs, rib bracing tape is applied before the fabric is installed. The best way to use this tape is to wrap it alternately and spanwise on the top and bottom rib cap until all are braced. By doing this, you ensure the proper placement and alignment of the components during the process of covering sections.
Made from polyester, surface tape is typically pre-shrunk and is only obtained from an STC holder. Surface tape, or finishing tape, is used on ribs, patches, seams, and edges. It is applied after the installation of the fabric and may have pinked or straight edges. It can also be used on curved surfaces (bias cut tape) that enables the tape to be sharp along the radius.
With aircraft fabric, grommets help in reinforcing the drain holes. Crafted with plastic or aluminum, grommets are doped or glued in place on the surface of the fabric. Drain holes that use these grommets have to be made prior to putting the grommets in place. It is important to note that not all drain holes require grommets if they are made with 2 layers of fabric.
Regular inspection of what is under any aircraft covering is crucial. Inspection rings that are glued to the fabric allow this to happen. These rings give a stable rim around the fabric area, and this area can be easily cut by inspection agents to view what is underneath. The rings are made from aluminum or plastic and have a 3-inch internal diameter. The areas where the inspection rings have to be placed are mentioned by the manufacturer.
The most recent fabric covering systems use certain special fabric cement for the purpose of attaching the fabric. When choosing the right fabric cement, one needs to make sure that it is flexible, has a long life, and has good adhesion capabilities. Additionally, the cement also has to be compatible with the fabric sealer and primer, which are used after and before the cement respectively.
Fabric sealers are used around the fibers of a fabric. They are applied as a protective layer for providing additional adhesion and for preventing moisture and dirt from entering areas. The primary fabric sealant of a dope-based fabric coating is a non-tautening nitrate dope and non-dope coatings utilize non-tautening proprietary sealers.
A filler is applied right after the application of fabric sealer. An appropriate fill coating is essential as it saves the aircraft from UV light, which is a destructive element that can cause the quality of the fabric to deteriorate. Fillers are sprayed over the area in multiple cross coats, as per fabric covering process STC or the manufacturer recommendations. The filler contains solids or chemicals that are included to block UV light from reaching the fabric.
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