Weekly Flight Review - The Daily Inspection

Before conducting this weeks flight review lesson, ensure you read article number 1 for this week, on Daily and Pre-Flight Inspections

The daily inspection becomes a routiene part of every pilots daily operation, however this simple task often leads to complacency where we look over the aircraft with an expectation as to what we will find - This expectation bias may just result in us missing something that has the potential to lead to disaster! 

This week we want pilots to really take some time to conduct a thorough daily inspection on their aircraft - Looking for something like your life depends on it, because it does! 

The steps for this week are simple but should be conducted slowly and thoroughly:

  1. Refer to your aircraft pilots operating handbook (POH) for the requirements of a daily inspection
    Review these requirements to ensure that you are conducting your daily inspection as per the manual every day. Different aircraft have different daily requirements, some of which include the removal of engine cowls during every daily inspection.
  2. Review the maintenance schedule
    Is your aircraft maintenance up to date? Has it had an annual or 100 hourly inspection within the last 100 hours or 12 months (whichever occurred first)? Are service bulletins up to date? Have your altimeter, airspeed indicator and transponder been calibrated within the past 24 months? Are all other routiene maintenance requirements complete?
  3. Review additional aircraft and pilot requirements
    Is your aircraft registration up to date? Is your flying membership up to date? Have you completed a BFR within the past two years? Do you need to supply a copy of a medical certificate to RAAus? Remember it is the responsibility of the pilot in command to review these requirements prior to every flight!
  4. Remove your engine cowls for a thorough inspection
    Remove the engine cowls and complete a full review of the engine compartment, looking for any signs of wear and tear, leaking hoses, loose wiring, cracks in the exhaust or holes in the firewall (see article on carbon monoxide), hose clamps, and any signs of hoses/cables rubbing against something they shouldn't.
  5. Complete a full daily inspection
    Spend much more time than normal conducting an extremely thorough daily inspection of your aircraft with the expectation of finding something wrong, not with the expectation of finding everything correct! 
  6. Carefully review the undercarriage
    RAAus aircraft are lightweight aircraft which use lightweight materials. Because of this, undercarriage failure/collapse is a very common occurrence type reported to RAAus. Pilots should pay particular attention for undercarriage wear and any signs of cracking or fatigue. This also relates to reviewing brake and tyre condition.
  7. Check flight control cables
    Control connections and cables are one of the most important parts of your aircraft. If failure occurs to a flight control cable or connection in flight this is likely to result in a fatal accident. Check for any signs of cable wear wherever possible and ensure that connections are secure. One way to check for broken strands in a control cable is to run a rag down the cable. Any broken strands will likely catch on the rag indicating wear. 
  8. Do not rely soley on maintenance schedules
    Although routiene maintenance should detect any major cause for concern in aircraft condition, pilots should not have the expectation that because maintenance has been conducted that there is nothing to identify. At the end of the day, we are all human, and humans make mistakes. Often occurrences are reported due to incorrect maintenance having recently been conducted, so particular attention should be paid to conducting a thorough daily inspection following maintenance.
  9. Record your daily inspection
    It is a mandatory requirement that the daily inspection is recorded for every aircraft prior to flight. Conducting the daily inspection alone is not enough, this must be recorded as part of the aircraft documentation requirements.
  10. Ensure the POH is located within the aircraft
    It is a legal requirement for the pilot operating handbook (POH) to be located within the aircraft during each and every flight. Ensure that this manual is carried within your aircraft for compliance. Some aircraft may not be overly practical for the carriage of the POH, such as trikes or open-cockpit aircraft, however there are often solutions supplied by the manufacturer for the safe carriage of these documents in flight, such as specific storage bags.
  11. Check your emergency beacon
    The daily inspection is the perfect time to check your emergency beacon - Ensure that the battery has not expired and that this has been registered within the preceeding two years. Refer to the instructions for your device and complete a test to ensure the device is operating. Check that this is a compliant 406MHz PLB and if this is not a GPS device, consider purchasing a new PLB to ensure your best chance of being found in an emergency!