Learn to Fly
7 day IFR Rating
Maintenance Aspects of Owning Your Own Airplane
As an owner-pilot, FAR Part 43 allows you to perform certain types of
inspections and maintenance on your airplane. Here is a partial list of
what you can do. See Appendix A of FAR Part 43 for a more complete
Although the above work is allowed by FAR, each individual should make
a self analysis as to whether or not he has the ability to perform the
- Repair or change tires and tubes.
- Clean, grease, or replace landing gear wheel bearings.
- Add air or oil to landing gear shock struts.
- Replace defective safety wire and cotter keys.
- Lubricate items not requiring disassembly (other than
removal of nonstructural items such as cover plates, cowling, or
- Replenish hydraulic fluid.
- Refinish the exterior or interior of the aircraft
(excluding balanced control surfaces) when removal or disassembly of
any primary structure or operating system is not required.
- Replace side windows and safety belts.
- Replace seats or seat parts with approved replacement
- Replace bulbs, reflectors, and lenses of position and
- Replace cowling if removal of the propeller is not
- Replace, clean, or set spark plug clearances.
- Replace hose connections, except hydraulic connections.
- Replace prefabricated fuel lines.
- Replace the battery and check fluid level and specific
If any of the above work is accomplished, an entry must
be made in the appropriate logbook. The entry shall contain:
- A description of the work performed (or references to data
that is acceptable to the Administrator).
- Date of completion.
- Name of the person performing the work.
- Signature, certificate number, and kind of certificate held
by the person performing the work. The signature constitutes approval
for return to service ONLY for work performed.
INSPECTION CHECK LIST
As a pilot, you may use the following checklist to conduct an
inspection of a typical general aviation airplane. Additional copies
can be obtained from your FAA General Aviation District Office (GADO).
- Spinner and back plate for cracks or looseness.
- Blades for nicks or cracks.
- Hub for grease or oil leaks.
- Bolts for security and "safetying."
- Preflight engine.
- Run-up engine to warm-up and check:
- Magnetos for RPM drop and ground-out.
- Mixture and throttle controls for operation and ease of
- Propeller control for operation and ease of movement.
- Engine idle for proper RPM.
- Carburetor heat or alternate air.
- Alternator output under a load (landing light, etc., in
the "on" position).
- Vacuum system (if installed) for output.
- Temperatures (CHT, Oil, etc) within proper operating
- Engine and electric fuel pumps for fuel flow or fuel
- Fuel selector, in all positions, for free and proper
- Remove engine cowling. Clean and inspect for cracks, loose
fasteners, or damage.
- Check engine oil for quantity and condition. Have oil and
oil filter changed at 50 hour intervals by an FAA certificated
- Inspect oil temperature "sensing" unit for leaks, security,
and broken wires.
- Inspect oil lines and fittings for condition, leaks and
security, and evidence of chafing.
- Inspect oil cooler for condition (damage, dirt and air
blockage), security leaks, and winter ization plate (if applicable).
- Clean engine.
- Remove, clean, and inspect spark plugs for wear. Regap and
reinstall plugs, moving "top to bottom," and "bottom to top" of
cylinders. Be sure to gap and torque plugs to manufacturer's
- Inspect magnetos for security, cracks, and broken wires or
- Inspect ignition harness for chafing, cracked insulation,
- Check cylinders for loose or missing nuts and screws,
cracks around cylinder hold-down studs, and for broken cooling fins.
- Check rocker box covers for evidence of oil leaks and loose
nuts or screws.
- Remove air filter and tap gently to remove dirt particles.
- Replace air filter.
- Inspect all air-inlet ducts for condition (no air leaks,
- Inspect intake seals for leaks (fuel stains) and clamps for
- Check condition of priming lines and fittings for leaks
(fuel stains) and clamps for security.
- Inspect condition of exhaust stacks, connections, clamps,
gaskets, muffler, and heat box for cracks, security, condition, and
- Inspect condition of fuel lines for leaks (fuel stains) and
- Drain at least one pint of fuel into a trans parent
container from the fuel filter and from the fuel tank sump to check for
water or dirt contamination.
- Visually inspect vacuum pump and lines for missing nuts,
cracked pump flanges, and security.
- Inspect crankcase breather tubes and clamps for
obstructions and security.
- Inspect crankcase for cracks, leaks, and missing nuts.
- Inspect engine mounts for cracks or loose mountings.
- Inspect engine baffles for cracks, security, and foreign
- Inspect wiring for security, looseness, broken wires, and
condition of insulation.
- Inspect firewall and firewall seals.
- Inspect generator or alternator belt for proper tension and
- Inspect generator (or alternator) and starter for security
and safety of nuts and bolts.
- Inspect brake fluid for level and proper type.
- Lubricate engine controls: Propeller, mixture, throttle.
- Inspect alternate air source "door" or carburetor heat to
ensure when "door" is closed it has a good seal. Check "door"
- Reinstall engine cowling.
- Cabin door, latch and hinges for operation and worn door
- Upholstery for tears.
- Seats, seat belts, and adjustment hardware.
- Trim operation for function and ease of movement.
- Rudder pedals and toe brakes for operation and security.
- Parking brake.
- Control wheels, column, pulleys and cables for security,
operation and ease of movement.
- Lights for operation.
- Heater and defroster controls for operation and ducts for
condition and security.
- Air vents for general condition and operation.
- Plexiglass in windshield, doors, and side windows for
cracks, leaks, and crazing.
- Instruments and lines for proper operation and security.
Fuselage and Empennage; Inspect:
- Baggage door, latch, and hinges for security and operation,
baggage door seal for wear.
- Battery for water, corrosion, and security of cables.
- Antenna mounts and electric wiring for security and
- Hydraulic system for leaks, security, and fluid level.
- ELT for security, switch position, and battery condition
- Rotating beacon for security and operation.
- Stabilizer and control surfaces, hinges, linkages, trim
tabs, cables and balance weights for condition, cracks, frayed cables,
loose rivets, etc.
- Control hinges for appropriate lubrication.
- Static parts for obstructions.
- Wing tips for cracks, loose rivets and security.
- Position lights for operation.
- Aileron and flap hinges and actuators for cleanliness and
- Aileron balance weights for cracks and security.
- Fuel tanks, caps and vents, and placards for quantity and
type of fuel.
- Pitot or pitot-static for security and obstruction.
Landing Gear; Inspect:
- Strut extension.
- Scissors and nose gear shimmy damper for leaks and loose or
- Wheels and tires for cracks, cuts, wear and pressure.
- Hydraulic lines for leaks and security.
- Gear structure for cracks, loose or missing bolts, and
- Retracting mechanism and gear door for loose or missing
bolts and for abnormal wear.
- Brakes for wear, security, and hydraulic leaks.
Functional Check Flight (FCF); Check:
- Brakes for proper operation during taxi.
- Engine and propeller for power, smoothness, etc.; during
- Engine instruments for proper reading.
- Power output (on takeoff run).
- Flight instruments.
- Gear retraction and extension for proper operation and
- Electrical system (lights; alternator output).
- Flap operation.
- Trim functions.
- Avionics equipment for proper operation (including a VOR or
VOT check for all VOR receivers).
- Operation of heater, defroster, ventilation and air
- Ensure that all applicable A.D.'s have been met and
properly recorded in the aircraft records.
- Comply with applicable service bulletins and service
- See that the FAA approved Flight Manual or Pilot's
Operating Handbook is aboard and that all required placards are
- See that the Certificate of Airworthiness and aircraft
registration are displayed and that the FCC license is aboard.
- Verify that all FAA required tests involving the
transponder, the VOR, and static system have been made and entered in
the appropriate aircraft records.
(END OF DOCUMENT FAA-P-8740-15A AFO-800-0783)
- It pays to take good care of your engine. Good maintenance
is not cheap, but poor performance can be disastrously expensive.
- If you are unqualified or unable to do a particular needed
job, depend on competent and certificated mechanics and use approved
- You can save money and have better understanding of your
airplane if you participate in the maintenance yourself.
- If you do some of your own maintenance, do it properly.
Make sure you complete the job you started.
- Money, time and effort spent on maintenance pays off with
your airplane having a higher resale value if you decide to sell.
- Remember, a well cared for airplane is a safe airplane if
flown by a competent and proficient pilot. Maintain both your airplane
and yourself in top-notch condition.