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Tue, Sep 17, 2019

Fly Safe: Performing Post-Maintenance Pre-Flight Checks

FAA Says Aircraft Just Out Of Maintenance Are More Likely To Have Safety-Of-Flight Issues

Do you know how to properly preflight your aircraft after maintenance? Many pilots secretly admit that they sometimes don’t quite know what they are looking for. Does that concern you? It should, since the pilot is the final authority when it comes to the aircraft’s fitness for safe flight.

As a pilot and/or aircraft owner, it is in your best interest to know and understand every component of your aircraft. You may think you have even less to worry about after your aircraft comes back from the shop. It should be in great shape, right?

Actually, aircraft just out of maintenance are more likely to have safety-of-flight issues than an aircraft in good condition flown on a daily basis. Something simple shouldn’t cause a problem, but work on multiple systems leaves the door open for more than a few complications.

For example, in-flight emergencies and accidents have occurred with incorrectly rigged flight control or trim systems. Loose bolts or a forgotten connector have led to other tragedies. It’s best to be on the safe side, know what work has been done, know what you are looking for, and perform thorough preflight checks.

Advanced Preflights go above and beyond the normal preflight checklist. Create your checklist by reviewing the maintenance history of the aircraft, and once you have that information, develop your additional items checklist. Once you have made this list, you can use it in all future preflight inspections. Find and review all aircraft records, including receipts, work orders, FAA Form 337s (Major Repair and Alteration forms) and approval for return to service tags (8130-3 Forms). Find any Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) data, including information on items no longer installed on the aircraft.

Some additional tips:

  • Become familiar with all controls and systems before maintenance, and create a baseline. Having this information will make it easier for you to find any “abnormal” functions after maintenance.
  • Coordinate with your mechanic to determine exactly what has been accomplished. Give those systems an extra look-over before flight.
  • Pay particular attention to the aircraft components that were replaced or repaired. If you suspect a problem, ask your mechanic to recheck the aircraft.
  • Be ready to abort take-off if something doesn’t feel right.
  • For the first flight, stay in the pattern within gliding distance to the runway.

Your safety, and the safety of those who fly with you, depends on your vigilance. Check, ask questions, and recheck. Your life may depend on it.

(Source: FAA. Image from file)

FMI: www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing/2016/media/se_topic_16_02.pdf

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