Though Hartzell introduced the first composite propeller blade over 70 years ago, modern composite props are still new to many pilots. A true composite propeller is made from carbon fiber or Kevlar. Unlike aluminum or wooden blades, they can be restored to their original dimensions over and over again. These materials are incredibly durable, but they are not entirely immune to damage. Don’t panic if you suffer a propeller mishap. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to repair the prop yourself or get help from Hartzell’s network of Recommended Service Facilities.
This is the single most important step you can take. Even a small crack or gouge can escalate quickly under the intense forces of flight. The cost of a propeller repair is far less than the cost of a wrecked aircraft. Inspect your prop before and after every flight. If you see damage, don’t fly again until you have it professionally inspected or repaired.
Gouges on the outboard region of a blade and damage to the tip or trailing edge may be minor enough to repair yourself. Hartzell recently published a series where Kevin Ryan, a Hartzell Technical Representative, demonstrates these repairs. You can find those videos at HartzellProp.com/Composite-Propeller-Repair. If the damage is more severe, it is best to contact your nearest Hartzell Recommended Service Facility. These shops have been certified by Hartzell to meet the most exacting standards of propeller service and repair.
If you choose to make the repair yourself, the first step is identifying whether your blade is made from Kevlar or carbon fiber. The materials look similar. Even if you think you know, it is a good idea to verify this using the blade model number. This is located on a sticker on the cylinder of the propeller. This sticker may be located on the blade of older composite props. If you can’t find the sticker, the blade model number will also be on the inspection sheet that came with your prop.
The Hartzell Propeller Composite Propeller Blade Field Maintenance and Minor Repair Manual is the ultimate guide to composite propeller repair. It is more commonly identified as Manual 170. Within its pages, you can determine whether you have the capabilities to make your own repairs or trust them to Hartzell. The manual contains step-by-step instructions on each minor repair and is a vital resource for any repair and maintenance. Download it at HartzellProp.com/manual170.
If your propeller has sustained more than minor damage, con-tact one of Hartzell Recommended Service Facilities. This worldwide network of propeller repair stations meets Hartzell’s rigorous standards, including regular on-site quality systems and process audits, technicians who attend required training updates at Hartzell and approved tools and equipment.