Aircraft Access and Inspection Panels | Aircraft Systems

Aircraft Access and Inspection Panels

Knowing where a particular structure or component is located on an aircraft needs to be combined with gaining access to that area to perform the required inspections or maintenance. To facilitate this, access and inspection panels are located on most surfaces of the aircraft. Small panels that are hinged or removable allow inspection and servicing. Large panels and doors allow components to be removed and installed, as well as human entry for maintenance purposes.

The underside of a wing, for example, sometimes contains dozens of small panels through which control cable components can be monitored and fittings greased. Various drains and jack points may also be on the underside of the wing. The upper surface of the wings typically have fewer access panels because a smooth surface promotes better laminar airflow, which causes lift. On large aircraft, walkways are sometimes designated on the wing upper surface to permit safe navigation by mechanics and inspectors to critical structures and components located along the wing’s leading and trailing edges. Wheel wells and special component bays are places where numerous components and accessories are grouped together for easy maintenance access.

Panels and doors on aircraft are numbered for positive identification. On large aircraft, panels are usually numbered sequentially containing zone and subzone information in the panel number. Designation for a left or right side location on the aircraft is often indicated in the panel number. This could be with an “L” or “R,” or panels on one side of the aircraft could be odd numbered and the other side even numbered. The manufacturer’s maintenance manual explains the panel numbering system and often has numerous diagrams and tables showing the location of various components and under which panel they may be found. Each manufacturer is entitled to develop its own panel numbering system.


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