Keeping your aircraft in peak condition requires great care and attention to detail as they are complex mechanical systems with countless parts which are prone to failure and malfunction if not routinely inspected. Moreover, it is important to practice preventative maintenance with your aircraft as a way of identifying and resolving any potential issues before they lead to greater problems or even irreversible damage. By adhering to the rules and regulation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), both aviation technicians and certified pilots are authorized to perform preventative maintenance. In this blog, we will discuss what comprises preventative maintenance and the vital role it plays in air travel safety.
The defining factor that separates preventative maintenance from regular maintenance procedures is that it comprises activities that do not require the repair, replacement, or assembly of complex components. Instead, preventative maintenance includes regularly conducted procedures and replacements. In practice, this includes running routine tests to make sure all systems function properly, inspecting parts for wear, and cleaning, lubricating, and routinely replacing FAA specified items.
Preventative maintenance can include both minor, but not major, repairs or alterations. Those that are considered major are any forms of maintenance on vital systems that could directly impact airworthiness, such as the aircraft’s weight balance, power plant operation, structural integrity, flight characteristics, performance, and other aspects. Additionally, major repairs and alterations cannot be conducted by elementary technicians; instead, they should be performed by highly skilled professionals. On the other hand, any certified and licensed professional can conduct minor repairs and alterations, so long as they record all activity in the aircraft’s maintenance manual. These minor repairs and alterations are any operations performed to get the aircraft back to operation and are approved for service return.
In addition to the obvious benefit of preventing complications in aircraft, there are various benefits to conducting preventative maintenance procedures. First, it helps the aircraft operate safely with minimal downtime, which means more air time as well as profit for commercial aircraft. Additionally, it increases the reliability of the entire system as a whole. For example, repairing one component of a large system makes the entire piece of equipment more trustworthy and less prone to failure. This can be observed in how the regular cleaning and tightening of screws can help make an aircraft's exhaust last longer.
Outside of the benefits that preventative maintenance procedures offer aircraft, the practice of conducting these procedures is beneficial to pilots and owners as it improves their mechanical skills. By working directly on aircraft, operators learn more about the mechanics of their vehicle and become better versed in understanding why certain issues occur. Keeping this knowledge sharp is a great skill for any person working in or around aircraft.
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