How Flight Control Locks works?
When an aircraft is parked outside of a gate or hanger, it is important that it has proper protection from the forces of wind and gusts. Without a means to lock the aircraft in place and secure flight surfaces, random movements of wind, jet blasts, or propeller wash can cause damage or even move a light aircraft. Many flaps, slats, and other control surfaces are designed to be constrained to specific ranges of deployment, and wind blasts can cause them to overextend and become either damaged or disconnected. To ensure that an aircraft is sufficiently protected from such hazards, components known as flight control locks should always be used.
A flight control lock, also known as a gust lock, is a device that can prevent erratic movements of control surfaces due to the forces of moving air. They can come in many forms, examples being guide control lock, valve control lock, and seat control lock components. While numerous aircraft may feature some form of protection for limiting flight control surface movement, it is recommended that light aircraft owners utilize more informal methods of securing parts when wings are a concern. In such cases, operators may lock the aileron and elevator controls with a device such as a safety belt.
For control locking components that are already built onto the aircraft, such devices are often fitted externally. In such instances, the control lock will align the control surface to an adjacent surface. Otherwise, locking components may also be internally fitted to flight controls or be managed from the flight deck with a lever. For light aircraft in particular, an elevator or aileron control lock may be present on one of the control columns and there may also be a similar method for securing the rudder pedal. If an aircraft does not feature a fully powered flight control system, there can be a means for locking the aircraft while it's parked which would be located within the cockpit. External control locking components are also beneficial for such aircraft when weather is a concern.
For aircraft that are hydraulically powered and are much larger, the effects of strong gusts are not as damaging as compared to light aircraft. As such, many airliners may not have control locks and the pressure provided by the hydraulic system will be enough to retain positioning. If an aircraft is light enough to be damaged by strong gusts, however, the pilot should always ensure that the aircraft is oriented with its nose facing into the wind. This will ensure the maximum efficiency of control locking. Some may also need to tie down their aircraft to prevent it from moving, and larger airliners may chock their landing gear to achieve similar results.
As flight control locks prevent the movement of certain surfaces and controls, it is paramount that they are all either removed or disengaged before a flight is attempted. Without releasing each lock, pilots may lose control over rotation and will be unable to safely control the aircraft after takeoff. To safely operate an aircraft, all locks should be removed before the engines are started, and the pilot should test for free flight control movement.
For the most reliable and steadfast control lock components, look no further than Cogent Sourcing. Cogent Sourcing is a leading distributor of aviation tools, providing customers with everything they need for aircraft maintenance endeavors. For customers facing AOG requirements, our team can provide same-day shipping or delivery on a number of items that we carry. To receive a competitive quote on items that you are interested in, fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website and a dedicated account manager will reach out to you within 15 minutes or less.