A spinner is an aircraft component fitted over a propeller hub or at the center of a turbofan engine. Spinners make the aircraft more streamlined, reduce aerodynamic drag, and smooth the airflow so it enters the air intake more efficiently. An added benefit is that spinners offer mechanics protection through control of the propeller blades. Despite their convenience, spinners are not without problems. An important issue to be aware of is tension cracks. These can develop where the spinner is mounted on the base plate, so the spinner should always be checked before flight. These cracks can lead to imbalance of the spinner, creating vibrations and significantly hindering the aircraft’s performance.
Most modern spinners are made from metal or composites. In the past, ABS (acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene) has been used, but it is prone to cracking from UV radiation. Spinners consist of three parts: the spinner itself, a front bulkhead, and a rear bulkhead. The propeller sits between the two bulkheads, attached to both via fasteners. It must be fastened tightly and centered such that it will not wobble due to normal vibration from the engine running. This wobbling would lead to fatigue and potentially compromise the spinner during flight.
The normal method of installing a large spinner on a light aircraft involves installing the rear bulkhead over the engine drive shaft, followed by the propeller blades, and finally the front bulkhead. The outer spinner dome is then mounted over this assembly and secured with screws. Small plates are sometimes affixed behind the propeller to fill in the spinner dome cutouts. Not all spinner designs incorporate a front plate, although such configurations are not suitable for high-powered engines. Because of their role as a rotational component and risk of cracking due to engine vibration, spinners must be inspected regularly. It is important to monitor the entire assembly, but especially the back plate and spinner dome.
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