At Learn to Fly, aircraft maintenance and safety is our number one priority. Our chief engineer and maintenance wizard, Scott Sutcliffe, maintains of all our aeroplanes. Scott has over 20 years experience taking good care of than 20 different aircraft types.
To give you a better insight into what takes place, we thought we’d take a look at what Scott does, and in turn, what Learn to Fly does, to uphold safety through maintenance each day.
The mother of all aircraft maintenance
To achieve the safety goals we need to be incredibly strict about our aircraft maintenance. We use an industry-standard maintenance release to monitor required work.
It’s a detailed release that Scott and our instructor pilots use to record three different types of maintenance work and communicate with each other that it’s being carried through.
Part 1: Maintenance required
The first part of the release is used to make sure that regular aircraft maintenance is seen to. Each aircraft requires maintenance for every 50 and 100 hours of flying.
The 50 hourly usually takes a couple of hours. All the oil is drained from the engine and the oil filter is replaced. The engineer also has a general check of flight controls, surfaces and brakes.
The 100 hourly is more detailed and usually takes a minimum of one day to complete. The engineer will:
- Carry out a thorough check of the aeroplane and look inside inspection panels for any damage
- Replace parts including brake pads, tires and oil filters
- Clean the engine and the surface of the plane
- Test fly it
- Put it back into maintenance if any defect is discovered during the test flight
Part 2: Endorsements
A pilot or engineer can put down a defect on the aeroplane in part 2 of the release. For example, if the strobe light is broken this will be written down. When the next pilot flies he can see what defects the aeroplanes have. If the plane is unserviceable for the flight this information will be written here too.
When these maintenance endorsements are completed, they are cleared in the same part of the release. The engineer will look at the defect, fix it, and sign off on it. Using the strobe light example, the engineer will write, “strobe light fixed – replaced globe”.
Part 3: Daily inspections and aircraft time in service
Before the first flight of the day, the maintenance release has to be signed by the pilot to approve that the aircraft has passed the daily inspection according to the Pilot Operating Manual and that it is suitable to fly.
To ensure we don’t fly our planes when they’re due for maintenance, our pilots check the air switch hours for their aircraft against the maintenance release and then determine how many hours the plane can still fly before its next service.
Keeping everyone safe through aircraft maintenance
It is very important that we don’t delay the required maintenance. In addition to the records on the maintenance release, we have a maintenance board which is updated every day summarising hours for our aircraft.
On top of that, our online system for dispatching flights won’t let us proceed unless there is enough time to complete the flight before more maintenance occurs.