From the immense heat caused by fuel combustion to constant vibration as a result of moving systems, aircraft components and assemblies undergo high amounts of stress each operation. As time goes on, wear and tear to components can prove detrimental as they reach the possibility of failure. To ensure that flight operations can continue to be carried out smoothly and safely, one should always have their aircraft inspected and maintained on regular intervals and before each flight.
When an aircraft inspection is conducted, the procedure consists of visual examinations and manual checks for each component or assembly. Depending on the type of inspection and whether or not issues have been found, examinations can be as simple as a visual inspection or as thorough as disassembling entire structures to closely test each item. Generally speaking, good aircraft maintenance consists of preflight inspections and scheduled maintenance, both of which can further guarantee the wellbeing of all components.
Regardless of when an aircraft was last flown or maintained, conducting preflight inspections before every flight is crucial for safety. With the preflight inspection, pilots can visually examine the aircraft to ensure that everything is undamaged and meets airworthiness requirements as dictated by the FAA. With the use of a maintenance logbook, pilots can check for when aircraft engine components, propellers, airframes, and other major assemblies were last maintained. If there are any inaccuracies or discrepancies, such issues should be addressed prior to the operation of the aircraft.
Once maintenance is confirmed to be up to date, the pilot can then begin the visual aspect of the preflight inspection. To ensure that no areas are overlooked and all examinations are conducted properly, having a system in place is highly recommended. To begin, one should first approach the aircraft on a ramp and visually inspect the entire body for any damages, misalignments, or other issues. At this time, skin damage, leaking oils, bent wings, and other general problems should be spotteable. Furthermore, all appropriate documentation should be present and secured as needed.
Once general inspections are complete, the pilot can then check the integrity of the cabin doors and their engagement. Within the cockpit, all seats should be secured to the floor and seat belts should properly latch for pilot safety. For the windshield, there should be no cracking, scratching, or general obstructions of sight. Lastly, a general inspection of the area, its carpeting, and other fixtures should be conducted to make sure there are no major damages, stains, or other issues.
Depending on the aircraft, a number of steps may be carried out to ensure that the flight deck and its instruments are functioning correctly. To properly conduct such operations, one may refer to inspection manuals or specific manufacturer documentation. Generally speaking, however, flight deck inspections will often consist of checking each instrument and electronic to see if they are reading data and operating correctly. As flight instruments are paramount to aircraft safety, any issues should be tended to as soon as possible.
Once all flight deck components and electronic flight display surfaces are overlooked in accordance with manufacturer specifications, the inspection can then continue on to the wings and tail surfaces. During this phase, no distortion should be present and all fasteners should be tight and secure. As spar lines and aircraft skin may be affected by flight stressors, extra concentration should be given to such areas when inspecting them.
Once the wings and tails have been looked over, aircraft engine components and fuel systems should be checked to find any possible leaking, damages, pressure losses, or other issues that could prove detrimental to the safe operation of the aircraft. As each area is combed over and issues are found, risk management should be conducted to mitigate hazards. With any damage or issue present, no flight should be conducted if there is a possible safety risk associated with it.
While preflight inspections are highly useful for quickly spotting various problems and safety hazards, they are not perfect for locating and fixing more hidden issues. To properly adhere to aircraft safety standards and airworthiness regulations, regularly scheduled inspections need to be met. Generally, aircraft inspections are separated into three types according to 14 CFR, and these include annual, 100-hour, and progressive inspections.
Annual inspections are held once a year, and they typically apply to most aircraft that do not have a special certification or inspection plan. During the annual inspection, a mechanic that has inspection authorization will thoroughly check over the aircraft and its various parts. If there are any issues present, such components may be replaced, realigned, repaired, etc. As the procedures carried out during annual inspections tend to differ by aircraft, one may refer to specific inspection manuals or manufacturer documentation to see what is required.
After every 100 hours of flight operations, an aircraft might require an inspection. While not practiced for all aircraft, 100-hour inspections are mandated by the FAA for any aircraft that carries passengers for hire. As such, students who provide their own aircraft for training, for example, would not be subjected to such requirements as they are bringing the instructor along as a passenger and not offering their services.
For very select applications, progressive inspections provide a very different program that consists of fixed interval inspections that follow unique maintenance plans. As such inspection intervals ensure minimal downtime, they are often used by corporate fleets and flight schools. To receive authorization for a progressive inspection plan, one must apply through the Flight Standards District Office with a complete maintenance schedule and proper documentation.
With adherence to both preflight and regular inspections, pilots can further guarantee the reliability and safety of their aircraft. If you are in need of aviation parts and components for replacements during maintenance, look no further than Just NSN Parts. As a premier purchasing platform for NSN parts and aviation components, we provide competitive pricing and rapid lead-times on a plethora of items sourced from top global manufacturers. Get started on the purchasing process today and experience how Just NSN parts can serve as your strategic sourcing partner for all your operational needs.