What aircraft maintenance issues can a pilot handle by themselves?

A pilot who is actively involved in the maintenance of his or her own aircraft will gain a much better working knowledge of their aircraft’s systems and components. Moreover, such pilots will also have improved communication with their mechanics and an overall better margin of safety. However, there are some aircraft maintenance issues that a pilot can handle by themselves and others that should be handled or must be supervised by an experienced mechanic.

Hence, an article (“Maintaining Your Way to Greater Safety”) in the March/April issue of FAA Safety Briefing about preventive maintenance is well worth reading as it also explores what tasks a pilot can and cannot do on his or her own. For USA based pilots, the FAA has a list (see Title 14 CFR part 43 Appendix A paragraph c – List of allowable preventive maintenance tasks) of 31 maintenance items that a pilot can perform without supervision and some examples mentioned in the article include:

    • Removal, installation, and repair of landing gear tires.
    • Replacing and servicing batteries.
    • Cleaning fuel and oil strainers or filter elements.
    • Replacing any cowling not requiring removal of the propeller or disconnection of flight controls.

Of course and even if you are not a USA based pilot, the FAA regulations are well worth looking up because according to the article, an experienced mechanic will have knowledge and inside tips that might not be explained in the aircraft manual and could trip up a novice pilot mechanic. After all, owning an aircraft is like owning and maintaining a car – only significantly more complicated.

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