All the snow has melted, birds are chirping, and the sun is shining. For weeks you’ve been anticipating the final melt so you can get your plane out, clean it up, and head back into the skies. Before you start cruising, don’t forget the most important part: checking your aircraft for maintenance essentials. After sitting in the hangar for months, your plane is likely going to need a thorough check through before getting in the air. What are the spring aircraft maintenance checklist essentials that you should go over this season?
Annual Aircraft Maintenance Checklist
Since it’s spring, you’re probably looking to perform an annual check on your plane before going wheels up again. You probably know the basics of an aircraft maintenance check, but a refresher is always beneficial to ensure safety.
A simple wash will not only make it look nice but clear out any dirt or debris that could clog up the functionality of the wings and tail.
Just like a vehicle, make sure the registration is up to date. Look through the maintenance records to see what was performed recently, or if anything has been postponed. The records should detail a description of the work, the date, the certificate number and type of the mechanic, as well as their signature. This is especially essential regarding airworthiness directives (AD). These are set by the FAA and render the plane as not worthy for air until fixed or replaced.
Checking the oil and fuel are simple first steps. You wouldn’t drive your car without gas or with old oil, so don’t try to fly your plane that way either. Inspect the fuel and oil quality, making sure that there are no contaminants and be sure that the fuel and oil tubes are intact.
Look at the tires in case they’re low on air or have cracks. Make sure the brakes are working properly, and of course, do a proper walk around to inspect the aircraft for broken parts, damage, or wear and tear that could cause issues in the air. Look for any signs of corrosion as this causes many safety risks.
A fire extinguisher (unexpired) and first aid kit are necessary in case an emergency or injury happens.
Aircraft Maintenance Checklist Tests
Electrical functions are imperative to a successful flight. Check out the magnetos and generator. Are they working properly? Go through all the flight controls to ensure that everything is functioning well and there are no errors that pop up. The batteries might need to be replaced, so examine those as well as the mounting apparatus and leads. Make sure the radio, antenna, wiring, circuit breakers, and circuits are functioning safely.
Aircraft Maintenance Preflight Checklist
Commercial pilots are required by the FAA to perform a preflight check before each trip. This allows them to catch any maintenance issues or discrepancies and report them to maintenance. The issues will either be fixed immediately or later; in which case a new plane will then be needed for the current flight. The same goes for small plane pilots.
Check for corrosion, dents, damage, dirt and ice. Test the operations of the landing gear doors, landing tear, wing flaps, tail fins, ailerons, rudder, stabilizer, and propeller. Make sure nothing is loose or damaged.
Here’s where detail becomes even more important. Check the fuel and oil pressure, radio settings and transponder code, health of the navigation instruments, operations of flight controls, database currency, and flight plan entry.
Types of Aircraft Maintenance
There are different forms of maintenance that can be performed by the pilot if they have proper FAA certifications, or by a licensed aviation maintenance technician.
This includes basic operations or small repairs. It’s like checking your vehicle for holes in tires, adding windshield wiper fluid, or replacing a worn-out band, except there is more detail and a certain certificate is required. Once this is obtained, a pilot can repair landing gear tires, service wheel bearings and shock struts, replace defective safety wires or cotter keys, replenish hydraulic fluid, replace safety belts, bulbs, reflectors, lenses, or spark plugs.
This inspection is required for any plane that carries any person (other than a crew member) for hire or for aircraft that are provided for giving flight instruction for hire.
The person performing the inspection will check the fuselage and hull group for fabric and skin deterioration, defects in the system and components, and the condition of the gas bags. They will search for any loose equipment, damage, or deterioration of the windows and windshields, defects in the seats and safety belts, problems with the operation of the instruments and flight controls. They will also test batteries to ensure proper installation and charge.
The landing gear will be inspected carefully to check for improper fluid levels, excessive wear, improper operation, cracks in the wheels, improper adjustment in the breaks, and defects of the floats and skis.
The propeller will be checked for cracks, leaks, improper torqueing of bolts, and issues with the control mechanisms.
Finally, the radio group will be examined for any improper installation or mounting of equipment, improper routing, or poor condition of the antenna, shielding, or wiring and conduits.
Aircraft Maintenance at J.A. Air
At J.A. Air, we strive to be your aircraft maintenance experts! As you gave your plane a thorough inspection, did you find issues that need attention? Are there parts of your aircraft maintenance checklist that you might have forgotten to look over? Bring your aircraft to us and we’ll perform an in-depth inspection and repair and issues that have been found by you or us. We have a variety of parts on hand and our shop allows your aircraft to be serviced with limited downtime.
We also sell parts, supplies, and even planes! Don’t hesitate to contact us for any of your maintenance needs, questions, or if you’re looking to have a new avionics system installed. Our team is knowledgeable, licensed, and factory trained. We’re excited to work with you and get your plane ready to fly the skies in no time!