Flight Training - April 2011 - 50

INSTRUCTOR REPORT»

plane standing in its underwear, you can claim a certain familiarity. I know that I must keep my Skyhawk’s sometimes-balky rear baggage compartment bulkhead securely fastened, to avoid letting a tow bar fall into the tailcone’s control cables during climbout. I was flying a Cessna Turbo Centurion over Iowa when I heard a loud bang, accompanied by a sudden change in the engine’s sound. I landed at the next airport and applied the fuel tester’s screwdriver tip to the upper cowling’s fasteners. Removing the cowl allowed me to verify that a spring had broken at a valve in the cabin heater duct, creating the commotion. Reassured, I buttoned up and headed home. I knew how and where to look because I had uncowled the airplane before, just to get acquainted with its inner workings. Use restraint when exercising the privileges of owner maintenance. Not all of us, me included, are mechanically inclined. I will take three times as long to accomplish a simple task as an

experienced A&P. I only attempt things I’m sure I can handle, and I’m always willing to quit and seek assistance. I’ve learned to use the right tool, and install only the right parts, using the methods established by the manufacturer and time-honored best practices. Most mechanics would rather not interrupt their busy shop schedule to do an oil change, add air to a tire, or scrub an accumulation of bugs from the leading edges. It takes an hour or so of time they can put to more productive use on an annual inspection, so use that opportunity to teach your students how to perform routine preventive maintenance and they'll benefit greatly. Early on, I was fortunate to have the benefit of a maintenance shop that allowed owner-assisted inspections, so when it was time for my airplane to go in for its periodic undressing, I was the one who removed the cowling screws, took off fairings, opened the inspection covers, and laid on the creeper to wipe solvent over the belly grime.

THE FINAL AUTHORITY
What the rules say The scope of owner-permitted maintenance is covered in Part 43 of the federal aviation regulations, specifically in Appendix A, section (c), Preventive Maintenance. It contains a rather comprehensive list of 32 items allowed to be done by the aircraft’s owner, under authority granted in FAR 43.3(g). The intent of the regulation is covered in FAR Part 1, which defines preventive maintenance as “simple or minor preservation operations and the replacement of small standard parts not involving complex assembly operations.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. For instance, item 19 in the list prohibits replacing any cowling that requires removal of the propeller. Why? Because reinstalling the propeller requires torquing the mounting bolts to a specific tightness and safety wiring the heads, considered a complex operation. If your actions would affect the airworthiness of the airplane, leave it alone. Who may? In order to perform these preventive maintenance operations, you must be the airplane’s owner, or operator in the case of a leased aircraft, and hold a pilot certificate. Therefore, you can’t change the oil on your friend’s airplane, even for free. Washing it for him is not counted as preventive maintenance, but touching up the paint would be his responsibility (items 9 and 10). The list of allowable owner-maintenance items has grown over the more than 50 years of the FAA’s existence, but the scope of the coverage has not changed. First, do no harm, and second, keep the aircraft in its original airworthy state by using acceptable maintenance practices.

I got grease under my fingernails— but I also got up close and personal with my airplane, learning how things worked, and when it was time to button it up I did it with care, because I was the one who was going to fly it home. Sadly, few of today’s maintenance facilities can allow owners to help, in this enlightened age of liability exposure and regulatory scrutiny. A mechanic must attest to the work done by putting his or her signature in the maintenance records, and if owner maintenence goes beyond the limitations, it may compromise the shop’s certification. That’s the reason owners are usually asked to come back later to pick up the airplane. If you do elect to teach preventive maintenance, know your limits and do it right. Keep track of how to disassemble and reassemble the bits and pieces. Buy the service manual and/or parts manual applicable to your aircraft, which will contain valuable drawings showing where parts go, in what order. In my case, I don’t cut safety wire because I don’t trust my ability to do a good job of replacing it. So, if the task requires a safety, I leave it to the shop. I can remove a wheel to change a tire, but when it’s back together I’ll carry it over to the shop to let an A&P torque the through-bolts to the proper value, because I don’t have a calibrated torque wrench. As the owner, you can and should become involved in your airplane’s welfare. Know how to remove the cowling to inspect the engine’s plumbing, learn how to replenish fluids, and be sure to keep a list of items you’d like your mechanic to look at during the next inspection.
LeRoy Cook, a CFI since 1965, is the author of 101 Things to Do With Your Private License.

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Flight Training - April 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - April 2011

Flight Training - April 2011
Contents
President’s Perspective
Right Seat
Flight Forum
The View from Down Low
This Weekend
Tech Tip What It Looks Like News
Training Products ASI News
AOPA Action
Since You Asked
Final Exam
Member Products
Success Story
News Member Products
Insights
Flying Carpet
REVVING UP THE REVIEW
EXIT STRATEGY
TECHNIQUE
Weather
Accident Report
Flight Lesson
Flight Deck Roles
Career Advisor
Career Pilot News
The Owner/Mechanic
Male Students
Say What?
Advertiser Index
Debrief
Flight Training - April 2011 - Flight Training - April 2011
Flight Training - April 2011 - Cover2
Flight Training - April 2011 - Contents
Flight Training - April 2011 - 2
Flight Training - April 2011 - 3
Flight Training - April 2011 - President’s Perspective
Flight Training - April 2011 - 5
Flight Training - April 2011 - Right Seat
Flight Training - April 2011 - 7
Flight Training - April 2011 - Flight Forum
Flight Training - April 2011 - 9
Flight Training - April 2011 - The View from Down Low
Flight Training - April 2011 - 11
Flight Training - April 2011 - This Weekend
Flight Training - April 2011 - Tech Tip What It Looks Like News
Flight Training - April 2011 - Training Products ASI News
Flight Training - April 2011 - AOPA Action
Flight Training - April 2011 - Since You Asked
Flight Training - April 2011 - 17
Flight Training - April 2011 - Final Exam
Flight Training - April 2011 - Member Products
Flight Training - April 2011 - Success Story
Flight Training - April 2011 - News Member Products
Flight Training - April 2011 - Insights
Flight Training - April 2011 - 23
Flight Training - April 2011 - Flying Carpet
Flight Training - April 2011 - 25
Flight Training - April 2011 - REVVING UP THE REVIEW
Flight Training - April 2011 - 27
Flight Training - April 2011 - 28
Flight Training - April 2011 - 29
Flight Training - April 2011 - 30
Flight Training - April 2011 - 31
Flight Training - April 2011 - EXIT STRATEGY
Flight Training - April 2011 - 33
Flight Training - April 2011 - 34
Flight Training - April 2011 - 35
Flight Training - April 2011 - TECHNIQUE
Flight Training - April 2011 - 37
Flight Training - April 2011 - Weather
Flight Training - April 2011 - 39
Flight Training - April 2011 - 40
Flight Training - April 2011 - 41
Flight Training - April 2011 - Accident Report
Flight Training - April 2011 - 43
Flight Training - April 2011 - Flight Lesson
Flight Training - April 2011 - Flight Deck Roles
Flight Training - April 2011 - Career Advisor
Flight Training - April 2011 - 47
Flight Training - April 2011 - Career Pilot News
Flight Training - April 2011 - The Owner/Mechanic
Flight Training - April 2011 - 50
Flight Training - April 2011 - Say What?
Flight Training - April 2011 - Advertiser Index
Flight Training - April 2011 - 53
Flight Training - April 2011 - 54
Flight Training - April 2011 - 55
Flight Training - April 2011 - Debrief
Flight Training - April 2011 - Cover3
Flight Training - April 2011 - Cover4
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