Chip 2 Weeks In


Vintage Restoration
Had my first "chip detect" yesterday, only 2 weeks into flying the line. We were halfway to GRR over the middle of Lake Michigan and had to do an air return to MDW. Almost shut it down.

Talking with a friend who flies corporate, he was joking how after 10 years of flying turbine equipment he'd never had a chip detect (knock on wood!). Anyone here experienced this before? It really seemed like a non-event after landing.
I've had chip lights 3 times. They were all in helicopters, which is not a big deal if the detector is an engine, but if it is a transmission ... it is a true emergency. The reason here is who cares if an engine quits on an aircraft, in an airplane you can glide and in a helicopter you can autorotate, but if the Main transmission fails you loose the ability to fly or autorotate and the helicopter has the aerodynamics of a brick.

The inspection process is fairly simple, a A&P mechanic does it comparing the size / type of material found on the magnetic chip detector and sends the material in for analysis.

Lucky for me my experiences were all engine chips / fuzz.

I've never had a chip light in a fixed wing turbine. I have had to have an engine ( P+W ) replaced due to a bad oil sample.

I assume you guys just monitored oil temp and press.
I assume you guys just monitored oil temp and press.

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Yup. Later in the day we walked by the airplane in the MX hangar, and a few of the techs said they were removing the engine and replacing it. The captain just looked at me and said "whoa, not good." Don't know if that was a little exaggeration though.
When my Saab's engine started acting up, I decided to just scrap it.

Now I drive a Honda.


We have chip lights every once and awhile, but each is treated seriously. Like C650CPT said an engine chip light is no biggy, but a tranny chip light is a REALLY big deal. If the tranny(we have two!) seizes, your royally screwed! You need the rotors to remain spinning in order to do use the remaining energy to do an autorotation. Once on the ground we remove the magnetic plug to check for metal shavings. Depending what size and the amount of the shavings, determines the course of action to take. Most times we drain and flush the system. And get a penalty turn to see if the chip light illuminates again. If there are more chips the transmission or engine has to be replaced.
I've never had a chip light, but for us, it isn't an emergency. We just write it up on the ground and the wrench jockeys check it out.