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How Pilots Determine The Aircraft Worthiness

How Pilots Determine The Aircraft WorthinessAs a PIC (pilot in command), you are responsible for determining that the aircraft you intend to fly is airworthy, and in a condition for safe flight.

Properly Equipped?

There are two equipment-related regulations that you need to know especially well.

1. The first is 14 CFR 91.205, which lists the instruments and equipment required for different types of flight. Some pilots use acronyms to remember these items. Another way is to think of them in terms of three categories: engine, performance/navigation, and safety.

2. The second is 14 CFR 91.213, which deals with inoperative instruments and equipment. The first part of this regulation relates to aircraft for which there is an approved Minimum Equipment List (MEL). If your aircraft does not have a MEL (often the case for light GA aircraft), you need to ask yourself several questions to determine whether you can legally fly with inoperative instruments or equipment. Specifically:

  • Is the affected equipment part of the VFR-day type certificate?
  • Is the affected equipment listed as required on the aircraft’s equipment list or kinds of operation list?
  • Is the affected equipment required by any other regulation, e.g., 91.205, 91.207?
  • Is the affected equipment required to be operative by an airworthiness directive
  • If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then the aircraft must be grounded. If the answer to all of these questions is “no,” then the last step is to remove or deactivate the affected item, and mark it as “inoperative.”
Maintenance Completed?

The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition (14 CFR 91.403). These duties, as outlined in 14 CFR 91.403, 91.407, and 91.417, include ensuring that:

  • Required inspections are performed.
  • Discrepancies are repaired.
  • Maintenance personnel make appropriate logbook entries, to include description of work, date of completion, and signature and certificate number of the person who approves the aircraft for return to service.
  • Inoperative instruments and equipment are treated in accordance with 14 CFR 91.213.

As PIC, you do not have to perform these duties yourself. You do, however, have primary responsibility for verifying that the aircraft you intend to fly is airworthy and in a condition for safe flight.

Inspections Done?

Part of ensuring that the aircraft you intend to fly is airworthy and in condition for safe flight involves verifying that all required inspections have been completed. The chart below summarizes what to look for:

aircraft-inspections

Experimental or Restricted?

If you are flying an aircraft in a restricted or experimental category, you will need to review the regulations concerning operation of these aircraft. You will find the provisions applicable to restricted category aircraft in 14 CFR 91.313. Operating limitations that apply to aircraft with experimental certificates are located in 14 CFR 91.319.

How Much Fuel?

Fuel-related light aircraft accidents usually involve one of two problems. The first is fuel starvation, which means that fuel cannot get to the engine(s), even though there may be plenty of fuel in the tanks. Knowing your aircraft’s fuel system very thoroughly is key to avoiding fuel starvation accidents.

fuel

The second is fuel exhaustion, which results from running out of gas. The regulations attempt to prevent this problem by specifying minimum fuel requirements for different kinds of flight. Regardless of time of day and flight rules (VFR or IFR), the regulations always require you to carry enough fuel to the first point of intended landing, and then continue for a specified period of time. Specifically:

  • Day VFR – Destination + 30 minutes at cruising speed (91.151)
  • Night VFR – Destination + 45 minutes at cruising speed (91.151)
  • IFR – Destination + alternate + 45 minutes at cruising speed (91.167).
Flight School Aircraft & Maintenance

Aviator flight school fleet consists of 10 multi-engine and 26 single engine aircraft. The Aviator fleet is made up of multi-engine and single-engine aircraft. The primary aircraft used in our training programs are the Beechcraft BE-76 Duchess, Piper Warrior III PA-28, and the Cessna 172 Skyhawk cessna, all are well known as training aircraft the world over. Our fleet also includes a Piper Arrow and a J-3 Cub. All aircraft are maintained in our maintenance facilities located here at the St. Lucie County International Airport. We average more than 35,000 hours of flight time per year. They are all equipped for VFR and IFR flight per FAR 91.205 (except the J-3 Cub which is VFR Day only).

Flight Training Aircraft Maintenance

Aviator has its own in-house maintenance facility, a 13,000 square foot environmentally approved hangar. Maintenance is under the supervision of the FAA. All technicians hold Airplane & Powerplant Certificates or better. Maintenance is open six days a week.

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