Pre-Flight Tips & Safe Flying Practices
Don’t Take Shortcuts When It Comes To Pre-Flight Checks
At Executive Flyers Club at Sacramento Executive Airport, we want to emphasize that experience is no substitution for maintaining diligence in pre-flight safety checks. When it comes to flying, making sure even the little details of a pre-flight safety are done correctly can affect the safety and pleasure of your flight or that of the next pilot. Whether you own your own plane or rent, take no shortcuts in your pre-flight. It doesn’t matter if you think you “know” your plane or are renting club aircraft, be detail oriented!
A thorough pre-flight check can prevent an accident as well as reduce maintenance costs.
Statistics show that most General Aviation accidents are caused by human error. Sadly, many of the errors that play a factor in general aviation accidents could be avoided if a proper pre-flight check had been conducted. While there are plenty of pre-flight check list resources, accident investigations often point to basic best practices being ignored. While not every incomplete or inattentive pre-flight inspection will cause an accident, poor pilot habits often drastically increase the already expensive maintenance cost of the planes we love to fly.
Also, this post is focusing on maintenance related issues related to pre-flight checks. It really doesn’t matter if you own or are renting, maintenance costs will affect your cost of flying as well as availability of aircraft. This is no indictment of pilots that rent versus owning either. There are plenty of examples where an owner’s poor pre-flight check and inspection ends up hitting him in the wallet or worse. Pilots that rent may think they are immune to the costs of maintenance, but that is not the case. There can be direct and expensive consequences to rental pilots who either knowingly or negligently ignore a mandatory, any part of a through pre-flight inspection.
The following are maintenance related pre-flight and maintenance tips.
1. Make sure to use your funnel properly when adding oil (make sure the funnel is inside the filler neck)
– Oil on the engine increases fire hazards and could migrate to windscreen and impede crucial visibility.
2. Use the red rag for checking oil and the white rags for cleaning window
– Using the wrong rag to clean windows could hinder visibility in flight.
3. Make a note on the blue sheet if there is not enough spare oil in the baggage compartment
– Blue sheets are important to advise us of necessary aircraft maintenance or supply needs.
4. Don’t overly tighten oil cap
– Screwing in the oil cap too hard when the engine is warm creates an almost impossible situation for removing caps when the engine cools down
5. Make squawks for every problematic issue you find in pre-flight
– You want to fly, we want to make sure planes are prepared and safe. Squawk away!
6. Heals to the floor unless braking for turn or stopping. Otherwise, don’t ride the brakes.
– Use this as a mantra: “Keep your heels on the floor unless you are braking for landing, or parking!” Period. At times of high workload, if you lift those feet up, you will press brakes without realizing it.
In general, It is very important to treat these planes like they are your own. Repairs are very expensive.
A few other important reminders when it comes to pre-flight inspections.
Summer in Sacramento offers exceptional weather for general aviation pilots. Having said that, there are some important considerations now that the temperatures are much warmer than a few months ago. 2021’s weather has been unseasonably hot earlier. Sacramento’s temperatures are also localized due to the surrounding terrain. While VFR conditions may exist in Sacramento, the east, the Sierra Nevada Mountains can spontaneously create challenging IFR flying conditions. Spring 2021 has see not only early heat, but variable weather to the east and quite a few windy days. As the seasons change, it is a pilot’s responsibility to make the necessary changes to deal with the weather. That includes understanding flight performance across different weather conditions and temperatures.
Know Your Load & Manage Your Aircraft’s Center Of Gravity
Be sure to know how to properly load the aircraft you are flying, regardless of weather conditions. “One more bag” could be the difference between safe flying and a catastrophic accident. Don’t press your luck and be sure your math is correct. There are far too many accidents that are compounded by overloading or more management of CG.