Are you an amateur aircraft pilot? Interested in becoming an aviation mechanic and want to learn more about what that means? Safety is definitely the most important thing to consider before taking off!
Before any plane can take flight, there are steps that need to be followed to determine if the aircraft is flight-worthy. You will want to make sure to review the plane’s pre-flight checklist to make sure it has received the necessary servicing based on the flight hours logged. Plan an appropriate flight plan, taking into consideration the weather and alternate routes available if a problem arises. Do a cockpit pre-flight check to make sure instruments and gauges are working properly. Lastly, do a walk-around of the aircraft and note any issues, and remove tie-downs and wheel chocks to prepare for taxi.
#1 Review the Plane’s Pre-Flight Checklist
If you are renting a plane, it should come with a pre-flight checklist that includes service, inspection, and maintenance schedules. The first thing to check is the flight hours. Aircraft maintenance is done based on flight hours so it’s necessary to review the number of hours logged and correlate it with the last time the aircraft maintenance was performed. Read any previous pilot observations and make sure a service is not scheduled for more hours than you intend to use the aircraft.
Bigger aircraft will have four pieces of paperwork. They include the airworthiness certificate, registration certificate, operating handbook, and weight and balance data papers.
- Airworthiness Certificate – issued for an aircraft by the National Aviation Authority in the state in which the aircraft is registered. The airworthiness certificate confirms that the aircraft is airworthy.
- Registration Certificate – confirms that the aircraft has been properly registered with the FAA using the AC Form 8050-1.
- Operating Handbook – an aircraft’s flight manual contains the information required to safely operate the aircraft.
- Weight and Balance Data Papers – the specifications of the aircraft to ensure it’s operating in a safe and efficient manner. The weight and balance data papers identify the empty weight of the aircraft and the location at which the aircraft balances.
#2 Know Your Flight Plan
Before you take off, make sure you are aware of your flight plan and the weather you may encounter during your flight. Do you have all the charts and maps you need to fly safely and confidently? Draw out your expected route to the active runway. Also, draw out an alternative route in case of inclement weather or emergency. Review your wind shear conditions, minimum safe altitude, and engine failure plan. Observe the wind direction and velocity from the windsock located near the runway. Knowing your flight plan is crucial to getting to your destination safely and securely.
#3 The Aircraft Cockpit Pre-Flight Check
Before the flight, do a pre-flight check on the instruments and gauges in the cockpit. Make sure everything is working and instruments will give correct readings in flight.
- First and foremost, make sure you have enough fuel for your flight.
- Check the aircraft’s registration and certification to make sure they are up-to-date.
- The ignition switch should be in the “off” position.
- Turn on the master power switch.
- Make sure all the equipment powers on correctly.
- Make sure flaps and landing gear are performing properly.
#4 Do A Walk-Around
Take a walk around the aircraft and make sure that there is no visible damage or cracks. Make sure to observe whether there are any nicks, loose fasteners, or dents in the wings or fuselage. Remove the fuel cap and visually inspect it for sufficient fuel. Be sure that the fuel cap is securely fastened before take-off.
At the rear of the aircraft, remove the wheel chock or tail tie-down. Observe the elevators and the rudder, making sure they are all tight and flight ready. Observe the antennae assembly and make sure no lubricants or brake fluid are leaking, and that the tires are properly inflated.
At the front of the aircraft make sure to look at the exhaust and check for any damage. Check the engine oil, ignition wires, magneto electrical connections and the fuel lines. Move the propeller and make sure to identify any lubricant leaks, missing bolts or cracks in the propeller blades.
Under the aircraft, check for fuel leaks around the engine compartment, cowling and fuel tanks. Check the wheels, landing gear, and landing gear compartment door for any loose fittings or other defects.
Finally, remove the wing tie downs and wheel chocks, then take a closer look to make sure everything is ready for flight.
You’ve got the Aircraft Pre-Flight Checklist down! Interested in learning more about aviation maintenance? Ready to become an Aviation Mechanic? A certificate or degree in Aviation Maintenance will give you a competitive advantage in securing an entry-level position. To learn more about Aviation Maintenance career training and to explore if MIAT is right for you, fill out the form on this page. Contact us today if you are interested in becoming an aviation mechanic!