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Trimeresurus
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Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 9:09 pm

Is it because you need a type rating of that particular aircraft to see if there are any issues visible in the exterior? I thought that kind of stuff was practically universal for all aircraft types, and in case of differences it wouldn't be hard to memorize all of them, there aren't 100 types of airliners flying around anyway.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:03 pm

Because the pilots have a stake in ensuring that the aircraft is airworthy, whereas a random contracted ground staffer doesn't have to put his life on the line if he doesn't do his job.
 
m1m2
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:04 pm

I'm not a pilot, I'm an AME, but here's why I think it's this way.

While I think I could probably do a more thorough walk around than a pilot, he/she is the one flying the plane and I know if I was a pilot, I'd want to have a look before I took it into the air.

Another reason is that many stops during the day (especially for a regional carrier) occur where there are no maintenance personnel available. In this case, the pilot would have to do the walk around. As for a type rating, the pilot type rating and a mechanic type rating are completely different, in fact (where I work), pilots come into the hangar and get trained by maintenance on how to do a walk around when they first start flying a particular type. I do believe the ramp personnel also do a walk around to look for anything obvious such as leaks, physical damage, doors/hatches left open, that sort of thing.
 
Max Q
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:13 pm

It’s not either/ or, maintenance personnel do their own separate inspection, routine servicing and walkaround and one of the pilots does a separate one


Rarely do I find anything on a walk around but once in a while I did
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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889091
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:30 pm

Before you go on a long drive in your car, wouldn't it be prudent to check the oil/fluids, tyre pressure, etc?

Now imagine if, during your long drive, some mechanical problem arises. All you can do from the driver's seat is to possibly turn some switches off. You cannot pull over and stop to rectify your problem. If you do, you crash....

Even if it were not mandated by the FAA, if I were a pilot, I'd definitely want to have a quick squizz around the aircraft before taking it in the air.
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:33 pm

Aviation is a trust but verify environment. There is no way for a flight crew to know that everything done on the aircraft has been done properly, but they trust the maintenance folks to do their job properly. The flight crews perform verification tasks...the walk around, the preflight checks, to ensure that the big pieces are there and the important stuff is working.

The other side if the coin is that we (maintenance) trust that the flight crews will operate the aircraft correctly and report any discrepancies as concisely and accurately as possible. But, with as much detail as they can in order to help diagnose the problem, e.g. autopilot inop is a crappy write up. Maintenance verifies the flight crews actions by performing their own walk around sand confirming a fault exists before tearing into something.

And, as stated earlier, it’s not either or in many places. Flight crews and maintenance perform preflight or post flight checks as necessary to ensure safe flight and compliance with applicable regulations.
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FGITD
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:34 pm

Max Q wrote:
It’s not either/ or, maintenance personnel do their own separate inspection, routine servicing and walkaround and one of the pilots does a separate one


Rarely do I find anything on a walk around but once in a while I did


Where I work has a bit of redundancy on that. Aircraft arrives, ramp lead does a quick walk, then the engineer does the proper inspection, then the pilot does his, then the engineer does one more right before pushback.

These are all long haul flights with a minimum turn, but still a bit heavy on the walkarounds. But as you said, you don’t find something every time, but it’s important that you do catch it when needed. More eyes can’t hurt
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:01 pm

Flight engineers do the walk around on planes with an FE. Yes, we do find things or other hazards like a plane parked where it could be damaged by jet blast or a piece a FOD.
 
Lpbri
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 12:29 am

AMT’s do in fact do a walk around, as part of an ETOPs check.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:19 am

Trimeresurus wrote:
Is it because you need a type rating of that particular aircraft to see if there are any issues visible in the exterior? I thought that kind of stuff was practically universal for all aircraft types, and in case of differences it wouldn't be hard to memorize all of them, there aren't 100 types of airliners flying around anyway.


The devil is in the details. Burst discs for oxygen tanks, reverser lockouts, battery drains, various hatches aren't in the same location on different aircraft. The number of static wicks varies, even within a fleet. Not to mention the large variation in number and type of probes around the nose.

No way you're going to know that for 10 types from memory.


As others have mentioned, we do it because in the end, we are flying the plane. I have no doubt the engineers do a great job, and I don't think they'd miss anything life-threatening. But it would still be embarrassing to take off with the gear pins in place. ;)
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:34 am

Starlionblue wrote:
No way you're going to know that for 10 types from memory.


Maintenance does. ;)
When seconds count, the police are minutes away, or may not come at all.
It’s hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it’s damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person. ~B. Murray
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Starlionblue
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:45 am

fr8mech wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
No way you're going to know that for 10 types from memory.


Maintenance does. ;)


Touché.

I'm a pilot, though. There's only so much space left between the ears after I've memorised the flight time limitations and hourly pay rules. ;)
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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zeke
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 11:32 am

Trimeresurus wrote:
Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?


Generally speaking the walk around is a formal procedure outlined in the FCOM. Some airlines have no mechanics/engineers at all stations and the pilots perform the tasks of refueling and transit inspections. Other airlines can have procedure in place to enable ground personnel to conduct external inspections.

When I have diverted in the past at one airport they would not let us open any doors, had to have ground personnel conduct the external inspections and refueling for us.

The official EASA position

“The pre-flight inspection forms part of the essential requirements for air operation, as required in Annex V (point 6.2) of the ‘Basic Regulation’ (Regulation (EU) 2018/1139). Being relevant to the aircraft’s fitness for the intended flight, this essential requirement is implemented by the Commission Regulation (EU) 1321/2014 for continuing airworthiness”

“Carry out pre-flight inspection satisfactorily

Pilot-in-command or, in case of Licensed Air Carrier, a qualified staff under the responsibility of the operator (e.g. maintenance staff - see note)”


From https://www.easa.europa.eu/faq/48482
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chimborazo
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:07 pm

Cheese and onion.

The well known “Swiss cheese” effect of having all the holes line up in a sequence of events for something to go wrong.

That chain can be potentially broken regarding potential issues observable from a walk round.

The (safety) onion is multiple layers... maint do their checks, pilots do their’s. It’s an added layer of redundancy for something that may have been missed which generally doesn’t take too much time but gives an added layer of safety so the negative of “doing it” can be far outweighed by the positive.

It’s one of the the first things we learn in private pilot training. As Noted above, it’s in the manuals - certainly for the small planes I’ve flown- to do a walk round visual inspection prior to flight.
 
Tristarsteve
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 2:19 pm

The pilots are always there! Many times maintenance is not.
30 years ago in Sweden all walk rounds on transport aircraft were carried out by a type licensed engineer. We had to jumpseat on charter flights to carry out the turnround inspection.
In SAS the pilot did not leave the cockpit. He was not trained in walkround.
Times change, and today SAS has no engineering staff at outstations in Scandinavia. The pilots do it all themselves, including the nightstop, and if there is a problem the engineer flies up from Stockholm.
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 3:15 pm

As far as US 121 carriers go, my experience (before I retired) was usually the junior guy in the cockpit performed the walkaround. In most cases that was the FE in a 3 pilot aircraft or the FO in a two pilot aircraft. If it was an augmented crew, then usually it was one of the guys on first break. Occasionally a CPT would do it, but that was rare at my airlines, but all pilots were qualified. Type Rating was not required.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 3:36 pm

RetiredWeasel wrote:
As far as US 121 carriers go, my experience (before I retired) was usually the junior guy in the cockpit performed the walkaround. In most cases that was the FE in a 3 pilot aircraft or the FO in a two pilot aircraft. If it was an augmented crew, then usually it was one of the guys on first break. Occasionally a CPT would do it, but that was rare at my airlines, but all pilots were qualified. Type Rating was not required.


AFAIK, Boeing philosophy is the FO does the walkaround. Airbus philosophy is the PM does it.

Standing by for corrections and clarifications. :D
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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Moose135
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 3:48 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
AFAIK, Boeing philosophy is the FO does the walkaround. Airbus philosophy is the PM does it.


A hundred years ago when I flew KC-135s in the USAF, the aircraft commander did the walkaround while the copilot started the checklist in the cockpit.
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
e38
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:02 pm

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply # 17), "Boeing philosophy is the FO does the walkaround. Airbus philosophy is the PM does it."

In my experience, the person who accomplishes the walkaround is dictated by the airline, not the manufacturer.

I have worked for two major airlines in the United States--both operated a mix of Airbus, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas equipment (not MD any longer, however).

At the first airline, operations policy stated the first officer perform the exterior inspection prior to every flight among all fleets.

At the second airline, operations policy specifies the pilot monitoring (PM) does the walkaround on every fleet.

As previously stated, at which time as both companies operated aircraft with a three-person flight crew, it was always the second officer--flight engineer--who did the walkaround.

Perhaps this is different outside of the U.S.

Quoting Trimeresurus (Topic author), "Is it because you need a type rating of that particular aircraft to see if there are any issues visible in the exterior?"

a type rating is not required.

A little off topic, but the most unusual procedure I experienced was on the USAF B-52 whereby both the aircraft commander (captain) and copilot (first officer) performed the walkaround on every flight--each pilot inspected 1/2 of the aircraft.

e38
 
Max Q
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:16 pm

Just as an aside

In the airline’s I've worked for the most junior crew member usually does the walk around but that’s not written in stone

As an FE and FO I usually did the walk around, especially if the weather was bad !

But as Captain I still did it about half the time, not just to share the work load but because I genuinely enjoy getting outside in the fresh air and looking at the aircraft, it adds to the experience, making it more ‘real’ for me and besides, you’ll be ‘locked up’ in that tube for the next 8-12 hours, getting some air is a good thing
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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Starlionblue
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:46 am

I stand corrected, and well-informed.

On our 3-4 crew flights, a second officer normally does the walkaround. Otherwise the PM on Airbus. Don't actually know who does it on Boeing.

However, just as in the examples above, it can vary. For example, the captain may have the SO to do the setup for exposure, and do the walkaround himself.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
milhaus
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:23 pm

In Europe most airlines use crew concept now, it means that all preflight inspections are done by crew. AMT job starts with daily check or line check, which are usually done overnight and ETOPS predeparture service check before each ETOPS flight. In my previous employer, an airline, captains usually did walkaround at home base and f/os at outstation. I think thats an clever idea as F/O are less experienced. So at homestation more experienced CPT check everything and requests AMT if needed. If at outstation F/O finds some defects asks more experienced captain, who knows if this problem was present before flight. There are structural damages on every aircraft, which are in limit and some of them are so small, that they are barely visible. But sometimes light conditions make them more visible and bigger and inexperienced eye can see them too big to be in limit. There are Dent and buckle chart onboard of every aircraft but generaly crews do not like to look at it.
 
Wacker1000
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:26 pm

If someone else did the pre-flight, who would find the missing screw at the tip of the tail during a turn in the Caribbean in January?
 
m1m2
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:02 pm

I don't know who would find it, but I'll volunteer to come down there and replace it for you.
 
Woodreau
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:32 pm

Don't you know we don't want that screw to be found? We want to get stuck in the Caribbean and have the company get us hotel rooms on the beach...
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
Wacker1000
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Sat Jan 09, 2021 1:40 pm

Yeah it is really amazing how that happens. ;)
 
Woodreau
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:49 pm

If you look hard enough you can always find something to ground the airplane.

One month I flew with a certain captain and at one specific airport he always said “I’ll do the walk around”. “Okay....” i replied the first few times. We were inevitably grounded at that outstation and spent an unscheduled night there every single time he did the walk around at that airport.
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DFW17L
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Sun Jan 10, 2021 5:49 pm

Perhaps it is because the ground crew stays on the ground.
 
Cubsrule
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:15 pm

Woodreau wrote:
If you look hard enough you can always find something to ground the airplane.

One month I flew with a certain captain and at one specific airport he always said “I’ll do the walk around”. “Okay....” i replied the first few times. We were inevitably grounded at that outstation and spent an unscheduled night there every single time he did the walk around at that airport.


Toward the end of the life of AA S80s, I feel like on about half of my DFW departures the ramp saw something that resulted in a delay so maintenance could come take a look. I have no idea if this was some sort of labor action or just a result of the airplanes getting long in the tooth; since it was limited to that fleet type I suspect the latter.
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HAWK21M
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:07 am

Pilots carry out a walkaround Inspection as part of their Pre & Post Flight checklist.
Engineering Personnell carry out a Transit Check Inspection which is a more detailed check.
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Starlionblue
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:42 am

HAWK21M wrote:
Pilots carry out a walkaround Inspection as part of their Pre & Post Flight checklist.
Engineering Personnell carry out a Transit Check Inspection which is a more detailed check.


Typically pilots don't do a post-flight walkaround.

Though I have gone to look for lightning strike damage out of curiosity. ;)
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
e38
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:04 pm

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 31), "Typically pilots don't do a post-flight walkaround."

Actually, we do.

Anytime our aircraft are going to RON at a station that does not have company maintenance, we do a complete and thorough exterior inspection. If any discrepancies are noted, those discrepancies are written up, we notify maintenance control, and contract maintenance is called out to correct the issue prior to the next morning's departure.

We also do a post-flight walkaround if we arrive at a station that does not have company maintenance, there will be a crew change, and the aircraft is going to sit for two hours or more before the next departure.

e38
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:54 pm

e38 wrote:
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 31), "Typically pilots don't do a post-flight walkaround."

Actually, we do.

Anytime our aircraft are going to RON at a station that does not have company maintenance, we do a complete and thorough exterior inspection. If any discrepancies are noted, those discrepancies are written up, we notify maintenance control, and contract maintenance is called out to correct the issue prior to the next morning's departure.

We also do a post-flight walkaround if we arrive at a station that does not have company maintenance, there will be a crew change, and the aircraft is going to sit for two hours or more before the next departure.

e38


I did say "typically". ;)
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:31 am

HAWK21M wrote:
Engineering Personnell carry out a Transit Check Inspection which is a more detailed check.


That all depends on the operator. What would be considered our Transit Check basically mimics the flight crew walk-around and has very few flight deck tasks.
When seconds count, the police are minutes away, or may not come at all.
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pogo
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Thu Jan 14, 2021 6:39 pm

I am a Ramp Supervisor at LHR and our company policy is that we carry out a walk round on arrival and departure, there will also be a walk round performed by one of the flight crew and depending on which airline there will also be another carried out by an engineer.
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HAWK21M
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Fri Jan 15, 2021 10:10 am

Starlionblue wrote:
HAWK21M wrote:
Pilots carry out a walkaround Inspection as part of their Pre & Post Flight checklist.
Engineering Personnell carry out a Transit Check Inspection which is a more detailed check.


Typically pilots don't do a post-flight walkaround.

Though I have gone to look for lightning strike damage out of curiosity. ;)


TYPICALLY its mostly the F/O especially in rain
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Starlionblue
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:26 am

HAWK21M wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
HAWK21M wrote:
Pilots carry out a walkaround Inspection as part of their Pre & Post Flight checklist.
Engineering Personnell carry out a Transit Check Inspection which is a more detailed check.


Typically pilots don't do a post-flight walkaround.

Though I have gone to look for lightning strike damage out of curiosity. ;)


TYPICALLY its mostly the F/O especially in rain


On Airbus, the walkaround is a PM function. However, since the captain can ultimately decide who gets which sector, he/she can be tactical about it. ;)
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
AAerospaceGeek
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:48 pm

Can confirm that ground personnel do complete a walkaround of the aircraft when it arrives and before it departs. You're looking for anything obvious - damage, leaks, FOD, etc. Definitely want to visually check the path before you push an aircraft back and remove all those nasty luggage zippers and other parts that like to damage aircraft tires.
 
shamrock137
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Re: Why are preflight walk-arounds done by pilots and not ground personnel?

Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:28 pm

AAerospaceGeek wrote:
Can confirm that ground personnel do complete a walkaround of the aircraft when it arrives and before it departs. You're looking for anything obvious - damage, leaks, FOD, etc. Definitely want to visually check the path before you push an aircraft back and remove all those nasty luggage zippers and other parts that like to damage aircraft tires.


Yeah, it really depends on the airline and type of operation, the overall answer is, it depends. Some airlines have pilots do walkarounds, some have both ground crew and pilots, and some have maintenance personal as well, especially with ETOPS. At an airline I previously worked for, the ramp crew would conduct a post arrival, and pre departure walkaround, but more focused on areas where the ramp worked, such as ensuring the cargo doors were closed, water panels latched, air hose disconnected, no dents from vehicles bumping the aircraft and the flight crews were the ones checking the tires, looking in the engines, inspecting static wicks, elevators, things like that.
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