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Mr Spaceman
Topic Author
Posts: 2723
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2001 5:09 am

Airliner Pre-Flight "Walk Around"?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 2:26 am

Hi guys.

I have a question...How is an airliner jet's pre-flight external "walk around" inspection carried out?

We've all seen airline pilots walking around outside their aircraft, checking out the landing gear, the engines, and the underside of the wings and body...but, what about those hard to reach places like the hinges on the control surfaces, the flap screws, the airspeed pitot tubes, etc?

Obviously, a flight crew would need a Cherry Picker to examine those parts of their jet (wouldn't that be quite the sight for the passengers!).

So...how does the whole airliner get inspected? Are the pilots involved in this procedure? (pehaps they sign maintanance forms before each flight). Also, how often is a complete walk around done? I understand this is a different situation then pre-flighting a Cessna or Piper. I'm just very curious about the airliner pre-flight "rules".

P.S. To the airline pilots out there...does it ever bother you, in the back of your mind, that you couldn't look at the top of the tail, YOURSELF, as you taxi from the gate?

Chris  Smile
"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
 
vaporlock
Posts: 3528
Joined: Sat May 19, 2001 9:22 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight "Walk Around"?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:26 am

Great Question!!! I have often wondered about this myself. Hopefully, you'll get some good info from reliable professionals!

 Big thumbs up
 
JG
Posts: 165
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 1:53 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight "Walk Around"?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:37 am

Mr Spaceman,

Unlike the small general aviation aircraft it takes a team to move larger aircraft. A brief summary follows, I am sure someone will address the alphabet of checks performed on an aircraft by maintenance.

The maintenance department performs the various inspections and releases an aircraft for service.

Depending on the company operations, pilots then have a somewhat abreviated preflight which consists of just a few steps as summarized next. Check the logbook for any work in progress. Establish electrical power (if not already established). Walk around checking specific items as listed in the pilot handbook and noting the general overall appearance of the aircraft. Basically that means, looking for damage or excessive fluid leaks or wear including and any indications of defective, improperly attached, or poorly aligned installations.

Because of competent and professional teamwork, I have never felt uncomfortable departing without having seen the top of my horizontal stab.

JG

 
Mr Spaceman
Topic Author
Posts: 2723
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2001 5:09 am

RE: JG

Thu Sep 20, 2001 4:05 am

Hi JG.

Thanks for your reply. It's good to hear that you don't even wonder about parts of your aircraft that you can't personally inspect. It's great that you have full confidence in the team of mechanics that examine your plane.

Obviously, an airline pilot has more important things to be thinking about.

I would like to learn about the basic rules governing an airliners airframe inspection. Specifically, I'm asking about how many hours an airliner can fly between each time the aircraft gets the mechanics' seal of approval? Plus, is any such time limit set by the FAA or an airlines' own policies?

Chris
"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
 
JG
Posts: 165
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 1:53 am

RE: JG

Thu Sep 20, 2001 5:38 am

I can't say that what I think about is any more or less important. Wait a few minutes and I am sure a mechanic/engineer will be able to address your question of inspections.
 
Mr Spaceman
Topic Author
Posts: 2723
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2001 5:09 am

RE: Airliner Inspection Time Limits.

Thu Sep 20, 2001 6:02 am

Hi JG.

Once again, Thank You for the info you gave me. It's much apreciated.

I understand that you, as a pilot, have a series of preflight checks to perform, including an external walk around, after the maintanance dept has signed your aircraft off as Good To Go.

With regards to how long the maintanance team's signature is good, before all the parts that you can't reach need to be inspected again...this is simply a question of curiosity.

Like you said, hopefully someone can give me an idea about inspection rules.

Take Care

Chris  Smile
"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
 
avionic
Posts: 107
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 1999 3:45 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight "Walk Around"?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 6:58 am

just a small comment...in my company it is us (the mex) that do the pfc...i know a lot of companies let pilots do a preflight inspection, and let a loader do the pushback....they have tried that also in our company...but why not let professionals do that...some planes have 5 or 6 legs a day...thats a lot of legs without a mech looking at it....and we do discover things sometimes....it is easier for us, because we know what is behind all the panels, and with the experience we have, it is easier to spot those hard to see things....but as i said some companies are happy with letting the pilot check the plane, some other guy refuelling it and a loader overseeing the push-back....what do u pilots think about it.....
 
310_engineer
Posts: 163
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2000 7:16 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight

Thu Sep 20, 2001 7:31 am

During a PFC not everything can be checked, the transit times will have to be a lot longer for that. Offcourse the constructors know that and they have made a maintenace schedule for that. Also as you will proberly know flying is risky business and the parts used on a plane are quit safe. For this it is not necessary to have a look at all hinges and everything prior to a flight.
Before releasing an A/C the Preflight or Transit has to be done and it looks little like this:
-review technical logbook and take corrective actions
-Carry out an A/C walkaround for evidence of obvious damage which may have occured during last flight, landing or taxi phases:
-Impact/ FOD
-Fluid leakages
-missing or loose parts
-missing overpressure discharge disks
-obstruction of inlets/outlets

-Check avx air extract valve/fan for correct position/operation

-Check brake units for evidence of overheating or leaks, MLG and NLG shock absorber for normal condition, tires for wear, damage and evidence of underinflation.
-Check MLG pitch dampers nitrogen pressure drop indicators: no pop-out.
-check engine oil level and hydraulics level.

pls note this can change a little from company to company and plane to plane.There is allways a minimum that has to be done but a company may allways add things.
Besides the PFC/Transit every 36 hrs there is a daily check, every 8 days a weekly/service check, every 400hrs an A-check, every 15 month's C-check, etc etc.
And all these checks have their specific inspections an jobs.
And there are also the hardtimes these are inspections given by the constructor on parts with a different time interval.

Oh yes, I work on A-buses but I'm sure that a Boeing engineer can tell his side.
Hope it helped
Mike
 
Mr Spaceman
Topic Author
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RE: 310_engineer

Thu Sep 20, 2001 7:53 am

Hi 310_engineer.

WOW!!! what can I say, that info you sent me was excellent!

That was exactly what I was asking about. Thank You, very much, for the effort you put into helping me.

I'll talk to you later.

Chris  Smile
"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
 
FBU 4EVER!
Posts: 980
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RE: 310_engineer

Thu Sep 20, 2001 8:01 pm

As an MD-80/90 pilot with SAS,we've been more or less forced to do Pre-Flight Inspections (PFI) on our planes over the last several years after a courtroom decision in the Company's favour.
It has worked fairly O.K. so far,but,as has just been explained,trained mechs are much more likely to find any anomalies no doubt.
Simultaneously,nightstops became Pre-Flight Check Night (PFC-N),done by mechs and being more encompassing than the day PFC.Not more than every second leg will be pre-flighted by a pilot during the day.Larger checks are performed during week-end nightstops.
There are no hour limits for these checks as they run on calendar date and UTC.
Not being able to check the top surfaces of the tailplanes is acceptable,as the chances for any damage to occur there is fairly remote.
"Luck and superstition wins all the time"!
 
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Bruce
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RE: Airliner Pre-Flight

Fri Sep 21, 2001 1:57 pm

One thing to add, once when I was spotting here at HSV from inside the terminal concourse (I'll never be able to do that again  Pissed damn terrorists), I saw a DL MD80 come in. The ground crew, when they were blocking the wheels, put a ladder up to the wing leading edge. In a few minutes when the Pilot came out to do his check, he actually climbed up the ladder so he was nearly level with the wing, and he was looking. He looked quite odd doing that in his uniform and all. then he got down. Everything was ok.

bruce
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
 
atlamt
Posts: 253
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2001 12:15 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight

Sat Sep 22, 2001 1:55 am

Bruce

What you saw the DL pilot doing was an inspection for ice on top of the wing near the fuselage. They usually use a pole to rub the top of the wing to feel for possible ice. The MD80's are prone to a condition know as cold soaked fuel. Basically the fuel becomes super chilled during the flight and due to the shape of the wing near the fuselage the fuel come in contact with the upper skin of the wing. Moisture from the air can then form ice on the wing which in a worst case can break free and be ingested into the engine. As the MD88's come in for heavy maint. we are installing heater blankets on the wings to prevent this from happening.

So untill all of the blankets are installed anytime the air temp is below 50F they have to do the inspection.

Hope this helps.

Chris
Fwd to MEL and Placard
 
avionic
Posts: 107
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 1999 3:45 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight

Sat Sep 22, 2001 7:30 am

Atlamt is right ...it must have been a clear ice check, but technically, you have to get up on the wing and feel (hands on) if there is any because you cannot see it (hence the term clear ice). The heater blankets have not been successfull in our company, and i doubt it will be much better at Delta....it uses up to much power (like f. ex. galley power)...but all in all, it is supposed to maintain a "wing temp" in excess of 22, 5 degrees C, but to do that it uses approx. 12600 W, available by load shedding galley power. It is only in use on ground. Another more efficient method is the AFB system (alternate fuel burn) It is intended to reduce the time fuel remains in contact with wing uppper surfaces by consumming fuel from the wing tanks earlier in flight. I won´t go into details, but first it burns center tank fuel down to 11000lbs/5000kgs, then it burns main tanks left and right fuel down to 4000lbs/1800 kgs, and then goes back to normal using center tank and then wing tanks. That has helped a lot......maybe FBU 4ever has something to say on this.....do you guys go up and feel hands on while doing a PFI?
 
FBU 4EVER!
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RE: Airliner Pre-Flight

Sat Sep 22, 2001 6:13 pm

Here in SAS we've got either mechs or trained ground handling personnell to do the hands-on check.If the Captain wants to,he may do the check himself,however,the check is usually part of the departure check and by that time we're strapped in the cockpit.
There have been quite a lot of problems with the heater blankets,the present one,short circuits in the system,seems to be solved by now,and we expect to use the system again this coming winter.But we still will have to shed galley power when the system is in use,though.
"Luck and superstition wins all the time"!
 
avionic
Posts: 107
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 1999 3:45 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight

Sun Sep 23, 2001 12:30 am

thats right commander.....det er flot ikke?
 
Metwrench
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RE: Airliner Pre-Flight "Walk Around"?

Sun Sep 23, 2001 4:23 pm

The most benificial pre-flight check that I can think of is one done by a "qualifed" person after the last action taken by anybody that has loaded, fueled, serviced the aircraft in any manor.

This person ensures that all exterior doors, access panels, engine intake plugs, accessory intake plugs, etc. have been cleared.

This "qualified" person should have extensive training on each aircraft and a "check list" which will be initialed every step of the way.

This "qualified" person should not be a Flight Crew member or a Maintenance person. Those persons are already too involved in other duties at the time of "push back". A third party is required to have oversite.
 
FBU 4EVER!
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Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 6:53 am

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight "Walk Around"?

Sun Sep 23, 2001 5:48 pm

Så er det nok en dansker på nettet!

As Metwrench says;many airlines use a "third" party to perform the so-called departure check,SAS included.We normally use a mech to do this service,but very often we have the ground handling crew performing this check,plus the push-back operation as well.Only qualified personnell who has gone through a course and final checks are allowed to perform these jobs.
"Luck and superstition wins all the time"!
 
DC-10Tech
Posts: 291
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 6:40 pm

RE: Airliner Pre-Flight "Walk Around"?

Thu Sep 27, 2001 5:05 pm

At my company (and our checks are nearly identical to the ones we did on KC-10's), the moment the plane shuts down the engines, we are doing a postflight. We are basically looking at everything, with heavy emphasis on leading edges, engines, tires, and flight controls. These are the critical areas that also are most prone to be damaged in flight. Also, engine fluids are checked along with tire condition and pressures (after they cool down), hydraulic qtys, etc...

We are required to document a daily check, this is a four page checklist that covers those items deemed by the company, FAA, and aircaft manufacturer to be mandatory. The mechanic will enter this check in the logbook and sign that it has been completed. This must be done every 24Hrs Zulu.

Every 72Hrs, a heavier check must be done, this check is 12 pages long and covers all items in the daily check with additional checks of the cabin and emergency equipment.

The flight engineer does his walkaround when he arrives at the aircraft. He does a general visual inspection (GVI) and doublechecks areas where maintenance regularly has access. (There have been a few times were an FE has found that a mechanic didn't put the oil cap back on the engine!)

Note that most of these checks have been developed over the years through operational experience and items that are found to be a problem are added to these checks.
For instance, on the DC-10, I am not required to hop in the #2 engine inlet every day to inspect the condition of the fan blades, but in the winter time, it must be done before the first flight of the day, every day, as experience has shown this to be an area of concern for ice damage!
Forums.AMTCentral.com
 
Mr Spaceman
Topic Author
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RE: 310_engineer

Fri Sep 28, 2001 4:34 am

Hello gentlemen.

Once again, Thanks, for your replies.

I think it's pretty cool that you guys have taught me about your pre-flight inspection procedures.

When I'm watching you taxi into position, I now know more about the steps you had to go through (both pilots and mechanics), in order to make sure your aircraft is ready to fly!

Thanks Guys.

Chris  Smile
"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"

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