ADVANCED PRE-FLIGHT AFTER MAINTENANCE

Acknowledgements:  FAA GA Joint Steering Committee Safety Enhancement Topic

Maintenance-related problems are one of the most deadly causes of accidents in general aviation. Contributing to this is a pilot’s failure to identify maintenance discrepancies because of a lack of knowledge and improper techniques used during the pre-flight of the aircraft.

In July 2014, the pilot of a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser airplane was fatally injured after his airplane pitched up steeply during take-off and crashed. The investigation found that the elevator control cables were installed incorrectly such that the elevator moved in the direction opposite to that commanded. The pre-flight checklist for the airplane required the pilot to verify that the flight controls were free and correct. HE DIDN'T!

What the FAA Regulations Say …
·    The pilot in command of a civil aircraft is responsible for determining whether that aircraft is in condition for safe flight
·    No person may operate any aircraft that has undergone maintenance unless it has been approved for return to service and is logged as such in the aircraft records
·    An operational check flight is required for any maintenance that may appreciably change the aircraft’s flight characteristics or substantially affect its operation in flight

Advanced Pre-Flight …
This refers to the conducting of a pre-flight that goes beyond the normal pre-flight checklist. This is accomplished by obtaining a valuable maintenance history of the aircraft and developing an additional items checklist. While this requires some time, once you have developed the additional items checklist it can be used in conjunction with the aircraft’s pre-flight checklist for all future pre-flight inspections.

Some Tips for Advanced Checks …
  •      Become familiar with flight controls or systems prior to maintenance. It is easier to determine what becomes “abnormal” if you are familiar with how it should operate
  •      Locate and review all of the aircraft’s records, including additional documents such as receipts, work orders, Major Repair and Alteration forms, and approval for return to service tags
  •      Also locate any Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) data, including data on items no longer installed on or in the aircraft
  •      Coordinate with your mechanic before flying aircraft that have recently been maintained to get a clear determination as to what has been accomplished
  •      After maintenance, check all systems more thoroughly than the normal pre-flight checklist implies
  •      Pay particular attention to aircraft components that may have been affected by recent maintenance
  •      Avoid becoming distracted or being interrupted in the middle of the pre-flight to ensure you do not accidentally miss or skip a step
  •      Be prepared to abort take-off if something goes wrong or just doesn’t feel right

                                                   FLY SAFE!
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