DIY main­te­nance

A clean air­craft def­i­nitely looks bet­ter and may even fly bet­ter, but when it comes to more de­tailed main­te­nance there are strict lim­its on how much you can do for your­self


Let’s face it, own­ing or part-own­ing an air­craft can be costly, so if you are will­ing to do some of the main­te­nance work your­self that can save some money — al­though some pi­lots may be un­com­fort­able with this. Those fly­ing LAA Per­mit air­craft may carry out the fifty-hour LAMS checks un­su­per­vised, and even op­er­a­tors of C of A air­craft can do some main­te­nance. In both cases, pi­lots and op­er­a­tors are per­mit­ted to do al­most any­thing pro­vid­ing that it’s su­per­vised by a li­censed engi­neer or LAA In­spec­tor. Of­ten, an in­spec­tion af­ter un­su­per­vised main­te­nance prior to flight is also deemed suf­fi­cient.

How­ever much you are pre­pared to do, it’s best to use pro­fes­sional tools from a spe­cial­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion. Ba­sics would be a socket set, var­i­ous sizes/types of screw­driver, a torch and an in­spec­tion mir­ror. Then a foot pump, or maybe a com­pres­sor to check your tyre in­fla­tion, a good bat­tery charger, and a step or fold­ing steplad­der is use­ful when refuelling or check­ing fuel con­tent on a high-wing air­craft away from home, as are portable chocks. If your air­craft lives out­side, then a tai­lored cover can pro­tect it. When clean­ing your aero­plane, choose clean­ing ma­te­ri­als spe­cially de­signed for air­craft, which are guar­an­teed safe and ef­fec­tive: su­per­mar­ket op­tions can be a false econ­omy. A good anti-cor­ro­sion spray is a sound in­vest­ment. Keep spare oil in the back of the air­craft — don’t for­get to re­place it —and a fun­nel, al­though many types now come with plas­tic gloves and pa­per fun­nel. Pa­per towel can help mop up any spillage but use only your bare hand or a mi­crofi­bre cloth to clean the wind­screen — and be sure any clean­ing prod­uct is suit­able as the wrong stuff can make it brit­tle, or fog Per­spex/ poly­car­bon­ate.

You may need tools to drain and ex­am­ine fuel from the tanks pre-flight and, on a farm strip, you may also need to bring your own fuel, so some Jerry cans are a good idea, but don’t for­get a fil­tered fun­nel. Fire ex­tin­guish­ers are now re­quired in the air­craft as are first-aid kits but keep­ing larger ver­sions of both to hand is also sen­si­ble.

For DIY main­te­nance a good qual­ity socket set is es­sen­tial

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