The purpose of this Safety Advisory is to inform pilots of their responsibilities as Pilot in Command and the safety precautions that are required to be exercised before flight. A pre-flight checklist and visual aid to pre-flight inspection will accompany this article. Human Performance Factors, and, Threats and Error Management will be considered. It has been prompted by incidents that have occurred on flights authorised by Melbourne Flight Training and that have been observed on flights authorised by other operators at Moorabbin Airport.
The purpose of the pre-flight inspection is to ensure that the aircraft is safe for flight in all respects. It includes: removal of locking devices, security of external openings and to ensure the aircraft carries necessary equipment, fuel and engine oil. It is last opportunity for the Pilot in Command to inspect the aircraft for defects that may have occurred subsequent to the Daily Inspection and that have not have been recorded on the Maintenance Release.
Melbourne Flight Training’s Safety Management System has recorded the following incidents involving pre-flight inspections:
Melbourne Flight Training’s Safety Management System is aware of the following recent incidents relating to the pre-flight inspections of other operator’s aircraft:
Review of regulations
The pre-flight checks must include those items: required by Civil Aviation Safety regulations, required by Melbourne Flight Training’s Operations Manual, stated in the Aircraft Flight Manual and any additional items to ensure the safety of the flight.
GUIDELINES TO PERFORMING THE PRE-FLIGHT INSPECTION
The pre-flight inspection should occur immediately before to the Pilot in Command boards the aircraft for flight. The pre-flight inspection may occur in conjunction with the daily inspection.
Fuel system inspection and fuel quantity measurement
Ensure that the minimum fuel required for the flight (and maximum with reference to weight and balance limitations) is on board and available for the flight. Approved methods to determine the fuel quantity on board are:
A fuel drain test is performed on the first flight of the day and after each refuelling. A quantity of fuel is drained from each tank and from critical points (specified in the AFM) in the fuel system to visually test for the presence of water and its colour for grade. An odour test may be performed to check for contaminants (Primarily AVTUR.)
Ensure that fuel caps are secure.
Check fuel tank vents are free from obstruction (ice, frost and insect infestation.)
Oil quantity sufficient
The pilot in command must ensure that sufficient oil (and other consumables) are available for the proposed flight. Actual oil consumed against flight time obtained from the Maintenance Release should be used when planning minimum oil levels for flights. MFT stipulates minimum oil quantities, greater than those required by the manufacturer, before flight.
Removal of control locks and safety devices
Ensure that the following have been removed and safely stowed or secured before start-up:
Removal of frost and ice
The pilot in command is to ensure that all external surfaces are completely free from frost and ice.
Inspection of flight controls
When an aircraft’s controls have been left un-secured in winds exceeding 35kt the control system is required to be inspected for damage by the pilot in command or an appropriately licenced maintenance engineer. Consideration should be given possibility that the aircraft may have been subject to propeller slipstream, helicopter down wash or jet blast exceeding 35kt.
Immediately before taxiing for take-off, the pilot in command shall test the flight controls for full and free movement and are correctly functioning.
Security of safety harnesses on unoccupied control seats
The pilot in command must ensure that safety harnesses on unoccupied control and passenger seats are secured in such a fashion to prevent interference with flight controls. Ensure loose articles are restrained to prevent the aircraft’s controls from being fouled.
Pilot in Command to ensure that the aeroplane is fitted with instruments required for the flight
The pilot in command must ensure that the aircraft is fitted with equipment required for the category of flight. For example; a turn co-ordinator is not required for a private flight however it is required for an AIRWORK flight.
In addition to this, the pilot in command must ensure that flight and engine instruments are functioning correctly before and during the take-off run.
Required equipment is fitted or carried and appropriately secured
The pilot in command must ensure that equipment required for the flight is serviceable and is fitted or carried on board for the flight. Required equipment may include:
In addition to this, the pilot in command must ensure that radio equipment fitted to the aircraft is functioning correctly.
Security of doors and hatches
Immediately before taxi the pilot in command must ensure that all doors and hatches are secured.
Hatches may include: cargo, emergency, oil and inspection hatches.
Documents required to be carried on board
Pilot in Command to ensure that the aeroplane is safe to fly in all respects
The pilot in command must carry out an inspection on the aircraft to ensure that it is safe for the planned flight. This inspection should include checking for un-reported defects and damage that may have occurred since last flown. Examples of damage that may have occurred without the previous pilot’s knowledge may include: propeller stone chips, flight control damage from strong wind, lighting failures, tyre damage and parking incidents. The windscreen should be inspected for cleanliness and cleaned as required.
Suitable for position for start up and taxi
The pilot in command must ensure that the aircraft is in a safe and suitable position for start up and taxi. Assessment of whether the aircraft may be safely started should include the minimum distance an aircraft engine may be operated from stated objects and that the propeller area is free from loose stones and long grass.
VISUAL AID TO PRE-FLIGHT INSPECTION
Immediately before taxiing for take-off and during take-off
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