Preflight Inspection Checklist

Think about all the double- and triple-checking you do when you travel as a passenger. Are your prescriptions packed? Did you remember your passport and boarding pass? While travelers inspect their own luggage and carry-ons before takeoff, pilots and airport grounds crew members are responsible for their own preflight inspections to ensure the safety and preparedness of a flight.

Inspecting the Plane’s Interior and Exterior

Before a plane is cleared for takeoff, there are a number of checks and inspections that must take place inside and outside the aircraft. While mainly the responsibility of the pilot, an aircraft’s cockpit and maintenance crews also take part in inspecting the plane and ensuring it is ready for flight. Visual preflight checks include walk-throughs of the interior as well as inspections of the exterior of the plane.

When inspecting the plane’s interior, a pilot may check controls and windows, and ascertain that all necessary documentation or paperwork is in order and onboard. The cabin inspection involves a long checklist of items, including important manuals and aircraft data that need to be readily available. Since this is also where much of the operational responsibility of the flight takes place, it’s important for the pilot to verify the functionality of switches and controls, check fuel levels and ensure that cabin doors and windows are properly intact.

In checking the exterior of the plane, the landing gear, tires and wings are among the equipment inspected for damage or other problems. The pilot’s responsibility for inspecting the exterior of the plane preflight is largely visual. If any aspect of the aircraft’s exterior looks out of the ordinary or not up to standard, it will be fixed immediately or the flight may be postponed (grounded, also referred to as an Aircraft on Ground – AOG) out of an abundance of caution. To make these essential inspections, the crew will use maintenance stands, from somewhere like Platforms and Ladders (go to the website here), to access all parts of the aircraft, checking them over before the flight takes off. That is an essential part of the crew’s job, so they make sure to perform these checks properly.

Seasonal Precautions for Safe Flying

Additional items may be added to a pilot’s preflight checklist depending on the time of year or weather. Cold weather can present an additional set of challenges for flight personnel, just as it does for anyone who operates a vehicle in the winter. This requires a few extra steps, from mechanical and operational checklist items to cautious planning. Pilots may take measures to preheat the engine or cabin, ensure that frost is thawed from the body of the plane and windows to increase visibility and reduce weight, and study the geography of the trip in case the weather prompts a change in the flight plan. It is critical that weather preparations are addressed in the colder months, especially with heavy air travel during the holidays.

From making sure you packed what you need to anxieties about safe flying, air travel can be stressful in more ways than one. Without exception, it is essential that preflight inspections take place before every flight in order to ensure the safety of all passengers. Reassure yourself that your aircraft’s flight staff are just as concerned about a safe flight as you are, and calm your preflight nerves by taking a look at the accompanying detailed inspection checklist.

Author bio: Allen Jones is Chief Operating Officer of National Aero Stands, a world leader in engine stand leasing – founded with the purpose of providing aircraft engine transportation stand support. Jones, who has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, currently oversees daily business and leasing operations. 

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