Whether owning your own aircraft is a life-long passion, a new hobby, or how you make a living, frequent inspections and maintenance are vital to the safety and longevity of your aircraft (and your wallet!).
To keep your aircraft operating as it should – and to avoid violating FAA regulations – Here are four crucial maintenance steps you should never skip.
1. Your aircraft magneto 500-hour inspections
Your 500-hour magneto inspection is at the top of this list because it’s the single most important magneto service event you can complete! And you track every hour of every flight in your log, so there’s no excuse for skipping or ignoring this crucial maintenance step.
Having your aircraft magneto inspected isn’t an airworthiness directive (AD), but the inspection is an OEM mandate. And on top of that, it’s just good common sense. A properly functioning, well-maintained magneto is essential to the safety and functionality of your engine— so taking the time to care for this component is vital to the longevity of your aircraft.
2. Get your aircraft fuel pumps checked at the first sign of leakage
The second maintenance step you never want to skip is tending to your pumps, including your aircraft’s hydraulic pumps, fuel pumps, vacuum pumps, and metering pumps.
If you notice your pumps have begun to leak out of the drain holes, you need to schedule maintenance as soon as possible. Getting your pumps inspected at the first sign of leaking not only has the potential to save you a sizable chunk of change, but timely maintenance (and an overhaul, if needed) also prevents the more significant damage caused by a faulty system.
Especially when it comes to electric pumps, a quick inspection and maintenance will save you a lot more money than letting the issue persist. That’s because there’s no barrier between the pump and your electric motor— and one leaky pump draining down into that system can cause your motor to seize up and melt on the inside. There’s no question, dealing with that leaky pump early on is a much easier repair than fixing a motor.
3. Mind the AD for Hamilton Standard Aircraft Propellers
AD for routine Hamilton Standard propeller inspections has been around for over 40 years, so it’s not a new mandate. But time and time again we see aircraft owners skip this maintenance step to save some money.
These inspections look for rust or corrosion on the propeller blades or in the inner workings of the system, which are all signs of potential prop failure. Yet owners often choose to see how long they can go before their inspection because they’re afraid their prop may fail the tests. In extreme cases, the rust, corrosion, and wear these inspections look for can actually cause the propeller to break off mid-flight, so this is a maintenance step you don’t want to skip.
There’s no question, replacing or repairing a Hamilton Standard prop that doesn’t pass this AD is expensive. But the consequences of putting off this important maintenance step are undeniable That’s why we strongly recommend you take the time to get your propeller inspected before you risk the safety of your aircraft and yourself.
4. Keep your aircraft out of the elements
Chances are, you’ve invested a lot of time and money into your aircraft… So why leave it exposed to the weather?
Allowing your aircraft to sit outside and unprotected throughout the year— especially in areas that experience extreme winters or summers— can ruin the equipment, inside and out. Remember, every single component in an aircraft is intended to be hangered.
Think of it this way: You don’t leave your lawn mower outside all year, through rain, sleet, hail, and sun, right? Because one year in and you’d struggle to get the engine to even turnover, much less operate at its peak. It’s the same with aircraft. They’re not designed to sit in the driveway like vehicles.
At the minimum, we recommend putting a tarp, carport, or awning over your aircraft to give it some protection from the sun, rain, hail, ice, and other elements.
Wondering where to send your aircraft components for inspection and maintenance?
At Aircraft Accessories of Oklahoma, our fast turn times, friendly service, and quality repairs will get you back in the air sooner. Click here to schedule your service or ask a question. And don’t forget to give us a follow on Instagram and Facebook!