Every flight is preceded by a preflight inspection of the airplane.
To inspect the airplane, we will follow a flow pattern in the same sequence before each flight.
- Ensure that all required paperwork is available. There are
four items of paperwork that should be on board prior to flight.
Remember the letters AROW and you will have no
problem recalling what is required:
Weight and balance data
All these documents need to be on board and the airworthiness
certificate needs to be on display in a place where it is
visible to passengers.
As a student pilot, you should carry your logbook and student
pilot certificate/medical on each flight. However, you can
start training with a CFI before you have obtained these.
- Remove the control wheel lock.
- Check to be sure the ignition switch is off and keys are not
in the ignition.
- Switch on master switch.
- Check fuel quantity, but be aware that the gauges are only
completely accurate when reading empty. Hence you must also
visually inspect the tanks and will calculate your fuel needs.
- Lower flaps.
- Master switch off.
- Fuel valve on.
During the exterior part of the preflight inspection, look for anything that appears to be mechanically unsound. Items such as loose or missing rivets or fasteners, wrinkled surfaces, or anything that just does not look right should be suspect. If in doubt, do not fly!
- Inspect the empennage.
- Remove tail tie-down.
- Check for free movement and security of elevator and rudder. Ensure balance weights are secure.
- Check antennae.
- Inspect right flap. Check sliders and security of flap. There should be only slight movement possible.
- Inspect the right aileron by checking the hinges and ensuring that there is freedom of movement and that the control wheel moves in the correct direction when the aileron is moved.
- Inspect the leading edge of the wing.
- Remove wing tie-down.
- Check right main wheel. The tire should be in good condition and adequately inflated. There should be no signs of brake fluid leaks.
- Drain a small quantity of fuel from the right fuel tank drain valve
and check for water, sediment and proper fuel grade.
- Inspect upper surface of wing.
- Visually check fuel quantity by removing fuel cap and looking in the
- Secure fuel cap.
- Check oil level.
- Pull out the fuel-strainer drain knob and collect a sample of fuel to check for and remove any sediment and/or water.
- Look inside cowling for small animals, lost wrenches, oil leaks, etc.
- Inspect the nose wheel and fairing. The nose wheel strut and tire
should be properly inflated. There should be about two inches of nose
wheel strut exposed and no significant leakage of oil from the strut.
Check the shimmy damper and the nuts and bolts for security.WarningWhile inspecting the nose of the airplane, remain clear of the arc of rotation of the propeller at all times.
- Check propeller and spinner for damage such as nicks or cracks and security.
- Check alternator belt.
- Ensure air intake filter is unobstructed.
- Landing light should be clean and operational.
- Inspect static source opening.
- Inspect upper surface of left wing.
- Visually check fuel quantity by removing fuel cap and looking in the left tank.
- Inspect the pitot tube.
- Inspect the leading edge of the left wing. Check stall-warning device and fuel vent.
- Remove wing tie-down.
- Inspect the left aileron by checking the hinges and ensuring that there is freedom of movement and that the control wheel moves in the correct direction when the aileron is moved.
- Inspect left flap. Check sliders and security of flap. There should be only slight movement possible.
- Check left main wheel. The tire should be in good condition and adequately inflated. There should be no signs of brake fluid leaks.
- Drain a small quantity of fuel from the left fuel tank drain valve and check for water, sediment and proper fuel grade.
- Now stand in front of the airplane and take a minute to consider if you have overlooked anything embarrassing, like the tail tie-down, or hazardous, like fuel caps not secured. If everything looks good, your airplane is ready to fly.