Pre-Flight Walk-Around

The Pre Flight walk-around is part of the first stages of any flight. As well as making sure that you are safe to fly, it is important to make sure the aircraft is also safe to fly. This page will give hints and tips about the different parts of the walk-around that are often looked over or not much thought is put into them.

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(image embedded from Flying Practices on 02 September 2010)2

Complacency

The first problem, that some instructors often across, is complacency. That is when the student is only doing the walk-around because they have to and because they want to make sure that the aircraft is safe. The student may also only rush it in order to get up in the air. This is especially common on busy days when the aircraft have been fully booked.
When this problem occurs, if often means that the aircraft has not been properly checked. Therefore the attention to detail needed to pick up small issues is not there and this means they might be missed or may not be reported. Even if these small problems may not be a direct problem to that particular flight, these small issues might grow into a bigger problem and can have serious consequences.
If you find your student is becoming complacent, it is a go idea to pull them up on it by asking questions about what they have noticed about the aircraft today.

Cabin

The inside of the aircraft is one of the places that is often rushed through. The student will have a quick look at the dials and the folder containing the legal documents. Some students often forget to check that the documents are for the aircraft they are about to fly.
The actual interior of the cockpit is another thing that is very often over looked. A couple of examples of extra checks are, checking the carpet hasn’t come loose and become a hazard to the flight controls, and checking that water hasn’t leaked into the aircraft close to electronics or other places that could cause hazards. These can be a problem in older aircraft.
As an instructor, it is a good idea to check the documents yourself in order to make sure and to check that the items inside the cockpit have been secured.

Exterior

The outside of the aircraft is often done well. However, there are a few places that are missed here to.

Checking that the aircraft is level before measuring fuel content

Checking the stall warning is operational (If suction type, you can place a tie or cloth over and suck on it to check its functionality)

It is recommended by Kinnison (2004)1 that the oil is checked between 5-30 minutes after the engine has been warmed. This will give the correct value.

Conclusion

The main solution to these problems is to understand the aircraft you fly. Pay attention to the small details. These are the ones that matter. By catching a problem early, it can save lives and also money.
Remember that though you might have flown these aircraft before in recent times, you don’t know what has changed until you check.

References
1. Kinnison, H. A. (2004). Aviation Maintenance Management: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
2. Flying Practices. Preflight Inspection Retrieved from http://williams.best.vwh.net/172RG_POH/4-5.html

Want to know more?

In depth knowledge about the pre flight walkaround can be found on:
Experimental Aircraft Info
FirstFlight - Your Virtual Flight School


Contributors to this page

M-JohnsonM-Johnson


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