Pilots are a rare, perhaps even strange breed, and have an affection for their airplanes that even a girlfriend or wife might envy. A lot of pilots live adjacent to a private air strip, having a hangar behind their home where they can taxi out and takeoff.
Inside these hangars are not only the primary aircraft, but usually some airplane project which is underway. As you enter the hangar one of the things you will almost always find is a portable air compressor. And, with a little thought, you can understand why.
Portable air compressors provide compressed air to power air tools and inflate tires, both necessary functions for any serious aircraft owner. Tire pressure will vary depending upon season, and can be adjusted depending upon the kind of airport the pilot intends to fly from. Large, soft tires work best on grass airstrips, smaller tires work best on hard surfaced airstrips.
Most modern aircraft are covered with aluminum fastened to the ribs and stringers with rivets which are driven into place with an air tool. In the typical aircraft owners hangar you will find various tools for forming, cutting and installing aluminum onto the aircraft, and the best tools are powered by portable air compressors.
Many different kinds of air tools used by pilots and aircraft mechanics are necessary for the proper care and maintenance of airplanes, including impact wrenches, riveters, inflator nozzles, cutting tools, air drills and rotary sanders, to name a few.
When deciding on the correct portable air compressor for the hangar, pilots will consider the type and number of air tools they will be using on their projects. Once the compressed needs of these tools have been determined, typically a portable air compressor with 1.25 to 1.5 time the maximum expected pounds per square inch (PSI) or cubic feet per minute (CFM) air flow is chosen.
For example, an air drill may require only 4 CFM for proper operation, while a die grinder might require more than 8 CFM to operate correctly.
Pilots find many uses for air tools such as using a sand blaster air tool to clean spark plugs, an impact wrench for changing aircraft wheels to a spray painter for touching up or painting the aircraft.
Among the benefits of air tools powered by a portable air compressor is the fact that the tools will last longer, have variable speed and torque control adjustments, run cooler, present no fire hazard nor do they emit any harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
Another benefit is that air tools are more powerful while at the same time not requiring such great effort on the part of the operator as to cause fatigue.
This is why you will almost always find a portable air compressor in a pilot’s aircraft hangar.