The onus of regular inspection and maintenance falls upon the owner and operator of each aircraft. Besides the obvious need for safety, the FAA has several regulations that mandate the frequent inspection of planes. Failure to complete these requirements can result in legal ramifications and an unsafe operating environment. This blog will discuss both the mandated and suggested inspections one should perform on their aircraft.
The essential inspections that the FAA requires for a plane to be airworthy are 100-hour and annual inspections. As the name suggests, a 100-hour inspection is required after every 100 hours of flight time. The only instance where this window can be exceeded is if the aircraft is not in a location where the inspection can be completed. The scope of these two required inspections can be identical, with the main difference being that only mechanics who hold an "inspection authorization" credential can sign off on the annual inspection.
Each inspection usually begins with the mechanic starting the aircraft's engine and taxiing around the taxiway or ramp. While taxiing, the inspector will test the flaps, brakes, and rudder paddles for fluidity and proper function. They will also test the ignition systems and run the engine like it was preparing for takeoff. Here, they will also make sure the exterior and interior lights are all functioning correctly. After this engine check is complete, the inspector will go through and visually inspect as much of the aircraft as they can, including the fuselage, tail, and wings. The cowlings and panels are removed at this point in order to not miss any hidden structural deterioration in any of these parts.
Due to the constant vibration and stress placed on the engine's bolts, screws, and rivets, mechanics will go through and make sure all of them are still tight and ensure none are close to failure. Mirrors and magnifying tools are used to look closely for dirt or debris that may not be immediately obvious. Though fluid and battery charge checks are routinely done before every flight, inspectors will make sure these parameters are all within acceptable ranges.
Besides inspection, servicing and preventative maintenance are the other tasks completed as part of a 100-hour or annual inspection. Preventative maintenance includes things like oil changes, compression checks, replacement of air filters, and lubrication. For both legal and continuity purposes, a detailed log is kept for all preventative maintenance done. Owners should constantly be up to date on any airworthiness directives (ADs) that pertain to their aircraft and let the mechanic know ahead of the inspection if there are any. If there are any outstanding ADs, the part or system will be replaced during the servicing phase. If there were any failures or discrepancies found in the inspection, they would also be dealt with here.
These inspections generally have two inspectors or mechanics to cross-check each other's work and the process could take several days to complete. Owners and pilots should take note of this and plan accordingly. Furthermore, if any component of the inspection cannot be completed or there is a part that needs to be ordered, the aircraft will lose its airworthy status until the inspection and service are finished.
Aircraft must be checked periodically between required inspections. Pre-flight, after landing, daily, and weekly checks all contribute to the longevity and safety of planes. At ASAP inventory, we can help you find and acquire both the tools needed for inspection as well as the parts you need to keep you flying. Explore our extensive catalog to find both new and obsolete parts from top aviation manufacturers. Our team of experts is always available to help you source the equipment you need. For a quick and competitive quote, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-714-705-4780.
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