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Maintaining An Airplane On Your Own
It’s no secret that aircrafts need regular inspections and preventative maintenance to keep the plane safe and sound. But, having to call in a professional to perform routine maintenance may seem like a bit of a hassle. The federal aviation regulations do allow aircraft owners to do some of the required maintenance on their own, as long as a detailed log is kept. If you feel up for a challenge, why not tackle some of the more minor tasks on your own?
Benefits of DIY Maintenance
Why would an aircraft owner want to take the time to perform routine maintenance on his or her own? First and foremost, taking on some of the preventative maintenance tasks yourself will help you reduce costs, since you won’t need to call in a professional. If you’re trying to cut costs so you don’t have to give up your aircraft, this is the perfect place to start.
Once you begin learning how to perform some of the minor tasks on your own, you will also feel a greater sense of pride in your aircraft. As they say, knowledge is power, and the more you learn about flying and taking care of your plane, the more you will love having it around.
Now that you know the benefits of doing it on your own, here’s how you should get started:
Find a Mentor
Everybody has to start somewhere, and if you haven’t been fully trained in taking care of an aircraft, it’s best that you find a mentor to help you in the beginning. If you know someone who has a wealth of knowledge you can tap into, then by all means, go for it, but otherwise, ask around at the airport. Chances are, there will be an aircraft maintenance technician who will be willing to help you learn the basics. Be sure to research anyone who you are considering working with, especially if you have never met before. Make sure he is who he says he is and is qualified to teach you the tricks of the trade.
Once you have done all of the necessary research and found someone who can mentor you, begin working with this person. Be sure to have him on hand when you perform the routine maintenance checks on your own for the first time so he can correct you before you damage the aircraft.
You may think you can do it without the help of a mentor, but don’t make this mistake. You can’t learn everything off of the internet, especially when it comes to this complex of a topic. Don’t let your pride get in the way of asking for help and finding a mentor who can walk you through the things you need to know.
Know What to Pass Off to the Professionals
As previously mentioned, federal aviation regulations do allow aircraft owners to take on some of the routine maintenance, but it’s important that you know what you should and shouldn’t do. How can you determine what you should do on your own and what should be left to the professionals? Take a look at part 43 of the federal aviation regulations, which is titled “Maintenance, Preventative Maintenance, Rebuilding and Alteration.” This section goes into great detail about who can handle what tasks, so become familiar with the rules outlined here so you can ensure you do not violate any of them. Some of the tasks an aircraft owner is allowed to do include changing the oil, filter and landing gear tires, lubricating the airframe and changing the navigation light bulbs.
One of the rules states that if you are working under the supervision of an airplane technician, you can perform any task that the technician is authorized to perform as long as he is closely observing your work to ensure you are doing it safely and correctly. Keep this in mind if you eventually want to take on more challenging tasks with the help of your technician/mentor.
Keep a Log
The FAA requires that all aircraft owners keep a detailed log that records maintenance performed on the plane. If you have decided to do some of the tasks on your own, you will need to learn how to record what you have done in a log to comply with the FAA’s regulations. Each entry that you make in the log must include a description of what was done to the plane, the date the work was done, the name of the person who performed the work, and if applicable, the certifications of the person as well. If the person performing the work does have certifications, he must include both the type and the certificate number in the log.
The log is kept for two reasons. First, the FAA requires that you sign off on every entry as a way to hold you accountable for the work that was completed. When you sign off on an entry, you are saying you believe the aircraft is ready for use. A detailed entry also helps keep track of who is responsible for what if something does malfunction. For example, if you signed off on changing a tire, and the tire malfunctions the next time the plane is in use, you may be held responsible since you were the one who performed maintenance on it.
It can be easy to forget to log all of the maintenance you have performed in this official record, but it’s imperative that you do so.
One of the keys to handling aircraft maintenance on your own is choosing the right products for your plane. Be sure to only use products that have been aviation approved, which means they have gone through testing to ensure they are safe for use on your plane. One of these products is Brightwork Polishes, which are aviation approved and designed to remove oxidation, water spots and cloudiness from the surface of your plane.
Once you have the appropriate products, follow the instructions closely and you will be one step closer to a properly maintained plane.
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