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Good airmanship involves careful attention to the many facets of preparation for and execution of a flight whether it is a short hop around the circuit or a long cross country flight.
PREPARATION FOR A FLIGHT
Before embarking on any cross country flight, careful preparations and planning should be done.
1. Up-to-date aeronautical charts appropriate for the route of the flight should be obtained and carefully studied, to select a route that will take into consideration the nature of the country to be flown over, refueling points, emergency landing areas, prohibited areas, etc., all of which are factors which influence the selection of a good route. Avoid areas where there is no chance of making a safe forced landing.
If the flight is to be conducted in accordance with visual flight rules (VFR) by contact navigation (i.e. navigating with reference to landmarks), the track selected should be drawn on the map and its direction measured by a navigation plotter. Distance between check points should be measured, using the mileage scale at the bottom of the chart. The track should then be converted from true to magnetic (applying the variation from the map) and its direction indicated on the map by figures above and below the line. Arrows should be used to distinguish between the track out and home. If the flight is to be a long one, the figures should be spotted in at convenient intervals allowing for changes in variation and for convergence. A distance scale should be marked along the track to assist in making groundspeed checks at, say, 50 or 100 mile intervals. Some pilots prefer to mark prominent checkpoints (such as communities, omnirange stations, reporting points, etc.).
Draw 10 degree drift lines on either side of the track opening out from the departure point and closing down into the destination.
PILOT'S INSPECTION PRIOR TO FLIGHT
A careful inspection of any airplane should be carried out prior to flight.
This inspection guide is applicable to almost any single-engine or light twin-engine airplane, provided it is modified to suit the airplane type and the manufacturer's recommendations.
This checklist and all others in this manual are representative only. Always refer to and follow the recommendations of the manufacturer in carrying out any inspections and procedures. Individual models of airplane may have special procedures and inspection guidelines that will vary from those published in this manual.
By following the numerically indicated route, a systematic inspection of the airplane can be accomplished.
Stand off and observe the general overall appearance of the airplane for obvious defects.
Battery and ignition switches OFF
Control locks - REMOVE.
Landing gear switch - gear DOWN position.
Baggage compartment - contents properly secured and within the safe C.G. limits, that is, not too far toward or too far back to upset the trim.
Airspeed static source - free from obstructions.
Condition of covering - missing or loose rivets, cracks, tears; in Fabric, etc.
Anti-collision and navigation lights, condition, and security. Avionics antennae (nav- com, VOR, transponder, marker beacon, glideslope, ADF, ELT) - cracks, oil or dirt, proper mounting and damage.
Deicer boots - condition and security.
Control surface locks - REMOVE.
Lights, navigation and anti-collision lights, for condition and security.
Same as item 2.
Control surface locks - REMOVE.
Control surfaces, including flaps - dents, cracks, excess play, hinge pins and bolts for security and condition.
General condition of wings and covering - torn fabric, bulges or wrinkles, loose or missing rivets, "oil canning", etc.
5a. Wing tip and navigation light - security and damage. 5b. Deicer boots - general condition and security.
Landing light - condition, cleanliness, and security.
Stall warning vane - freedom of movement. Prior to inspection, turn the master switch ON so that the stall warning signal can be checked when the vane is deflected.
6. Landing gear.
Wheels and brakes, condition and security, indications of fluid leakage at fittings,
fluid lines and adjacent area.
Tires-cuts. bruises, excessive wear, and proper inflation. Oleos and shock struts - cleanliness and proper inflation. Shock cords - general condition.
Wheel fairing - general condition and security. On streamlined wheel fairings, look inside for an accumulation of mud. ice, etc.
Limit and position switches - security, cleanliness, and condition.
Ground safety locks - REMOVE.
Seaplanes: floats - remove float covers and inspect for water. Pump out with bilge pump if necessary.
7. Fuel tank.
Fuel quantity in tank - visually check the tanks to verify the amount and the correct grade or type of fuel.
Fuel tank filler cap and fairing covers - secure.
Fuel tank vents - obstructions. If the fuel tank is equipped with a quick or snap-type drain valve, drain a sufficient amount of fuel into a container to check for the presence of water and sediment.
Drain cocks - make sure they open and close properly. No drips.
Engine oil quantity - secure filler cap and dipstick. General condition and evidence of fuel and oil leaks.
Cowling, access doors, and cowl flaps - condition and security. Carburetor air filter - cleanliness and security.
Exhaust stacks - check for cracks and studs for tightness.
Spark plugs -check terminals for security and cleanliness.
Engine mount - for cracks and security. Drain a sufficient quantity of fuel from the main fuel strainer (often referred to as the filter bowl or gascalator) to determine that there is no water or sediment remaining in the system.
When closing the cowling, be sure to inspect cowling and baffle seals to assure that they are snug and in place. This is important to assure proper cooling of the engine.
8a. Nose landing gear.
Wheel and tire-cuts, bruises, excessive wear, and proper inflation.
Oleo, and shock strut - proper inflation and cleanliness.
Wheel well and fairing - general condition and security.
Limit and position switches - cleanliness and security.
Ground safety lock - REMOVE.
Propeller and spinner - security, oil leakage, and condition. Be particularly observant for deep nicks and scratches.
Assure that the ground area under the propeller is free of loose stones, cinders, etc.
10. Fuel tank.
Same as Item 7.
11. Landing gear.
Same as Item 6.
12. pitot related materials.
Pitot covers - REMOVE.
Pitot and static ports - remove obstructions.
General condition and alignment.
Same at Item 5, 5a, and 5b.
Cleanliness - see that there are no loose articles which might foul controls, or cause distracting noises.
Windshield and windows - obvious defects and cleanliness.
Safety belt and shoulder harness - condition and security. See that there is a safety belt for every passenger. Secure belts in unoccupied seats.
Fire fighting equipment - check cabin fire extinguisher for capacity and ease of release from its holder.
Emergency exits - not obstructed by disposable load. First aid kit (mandatory) - on board and accessible.
ELT - secure in mounting, connections tight, general condition and security (no corrosion), antenna secure, annual recertification completed and current, battery not time-expired, ELT switch in ARMED position.
Appropriate charts on board and readily accessible.
Mandatory documents on board - certificate of registration, certificate of airworthiness, journey log book, radio equipment license, complete license of each crew member, radio operator's license, certificate of insurance. Also have on board any special authorization for the flight (e.g. authorization for an employee to collect expenses for flying on business). Check that the C of A is valid and that the airplane has been signed out within the required period. Survival equipment - on board.
Adjust rudder pedals so that full rudder travel may be assured.
Parking brake - SET.
Check all instruments
Landing gear and flap switches or levers in proper position. Check all switches and controls.
Check fuel selector valve to be sure it is moving freely. Trim tabs - SET.
Pilot's seat - LOCKED.
15. Cabin Briefing.
Ensure that all passengers know the following vital information:
Operation of seat belts - how to secure and how to release. Smoking limitations - when smoking is permitted, if at all.
Location of exits - how to operate door handles.
Oxygen system, (if available), crash position, location of life jackets, fire extinguishers, first aid kit, ELT - how to operate.
Emergency procedures should be outlined on cards which passengers should be advised to read so they can act knowledgeably and positively if an emergency situation should arise.
It is extremely important to carry out a thorough pre-flight inspection before every flight. Small clues indicating a malfunctioning or damaged component may easily be missed in a hurried pre-flight check. The extra effort involved in not just looking at but really inspecting every part of the airplane may make the difference between a safe flight and one that ends in an accident. The time to be even more vigilant is after a maintenance, painting or modification job has been performed on the airplane. It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for components to be reinstalled incorrectly.
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Updated: March 12, 2004