All aircraft need periodic inspections and maintenance in order to ensure they are airworthy and safe to fly. Some of that maintenance is pre-scheduled and known to both the pilot and aircraft technician. Other types of maintenance are sudden and unscheduled, which can be due to problems found by the pilot or by the A&P performing an inspection. For pilots and aircraft owners, it is important to understand the differences between scheduled and unscheduled aircraft maintenance.
Understanding Scheduled Aircraft Maintenance
Scheduled aircraft maintenance is preventative maintenance that is performed at regular intervals. This type of maintenance generally includes 100-hour inspections, annual inspections, and progressive inspections as well as preflight checks to ensure the aircraft is airworthy and ready to be flown.
1. Preflight Checks
Every pilot is required to perform certain preflight checks in order to make sure the aircraft is ready to be flown and that there are no obvious defects or malfunctions. When a pilot or student pilot performs a preflight check, he or she must use a checklist in order to ensure nothing is forgotten. Preflight checks include walking around the aircraft and inspecting all the major components of the fuselage and flight control surfaces for defects, wear and tear, and other deformities that may impede the safety of the flight. The cockpit, cabin, avionics, and battery are also checked and tested for proper operation and function prior to the flight. If any abnormalities are found, the pilot does not depart and instead contacts a maintenance technician for repairs.
2. 50 and 100 Hour Inspections
Aircraft that are flown for hire or for flight instruction are required to have 50-hour checks and 100-hour inspections. It’s important to understand that the 50-hour inspection isn’t FAA mandated. However, aircraft owners should still consider it due to the fact that the oil must be changed every 50 hours. In addition to changing the oil, the 50-hour inspection may also include examining, cleaning and gapping the spark plugs and checking the engine for wear and tear. If any excessive wear and tear or problems are found, those components are replaced in order to maintain the aircraft’s airworthiness. This is also a good time to address any problems or minor maintenance issues noticed by the owner or pilot of the aircraft.
100-hour inspections are required by the FAA, and those regulations can be found under FAR 91.409b. During a 100-hour inspection, all inspection plates, access doors, cowlings and fairings are removed, and all of the major components of the aircraft are inspected. This typically includes the fabric and skin of the fuselage, the windows, cabin and cargo doors and the flight control surfaces as well as the tires, brakes, struts and landing gear.
Inside the aircraft, the cabin and cockpit are inspected for any potential issues such as loose controls and objects and seat and seat belts malfunctions. The avionics, yoke, fuel switches, flight controls and battery are also inspected and tested. The engine and engine area are also inspected and routine maintenance is performed, such as cleaning the spark plugs and changing the oil. If defect or damage is found, repairs are made to ensure the aircraft remains airworthy in accordance with all applicable FAA regulations.
3. Annual Inspections
Annual inspections are performed once every 12 calendar months and are required for all aircraft, regardless of whether they are used for hire, flight instruction or for recreational use. FAR 91.409a sets up the requirement for an Annual Inspection while FAR 43 Appendix D outlines the detail and scope of the inspection itself.
Annual inspections are typically more detailed than 100-hour inspections. The annual commonly includes all of the inspections performed in the 100-hour, such as, review of all the aircraft logbooks and testing and inspecting the engine, flight surfaces, flight controls and avionics. If obvious defects and/or problems are found during the annual inspection, they are noted so that they can be repaired and the aircraft airworthiness restored.
4. Progressive Inspections
Progressive inspections are also known as phase inspections, and they are typically utilized when an aircraft can’t afford to spend a lot of time in the maintenance hangar due to its flight schedule. These inspections also occur at regular intervals. For example, a progressive inspection may be performed every 25 or 50 hours. During each inspection, certain components of the aircraft are examined and tested for proper operation. The inspections are also performed in an organized manner so that all of the requirements for 100-hour and annual inspections are completed on-time.
Understanding Unscheduled Aircraft Maintenance
Unscheduled aircraft maintenance occurs anytime a component has malfunctioned or is suspected of malfunctioning, and by definition, this maintenance is unforeseen. It can occur after the pilot finds a problem during the preflight inspection, as the result of an in-flight malfunction, or as the result of problems found during 100-hour, annual, and progressive inspections.
Examples of unscheduled maintenance could be anything from a worn tire, low landing gear strut, or sheared vacuum pump to in-flight issues such as a rough running engine or high magneto drop during run-up. Upon discovery, the pilot would report the problem to the A&P technician and fill out a maintenance request. At this point, the aircraft would be grounded until the problems are repaired and the aircraft is deemed to be airworthy by the technician.
Getting Your Scheduled and Unscheduled Maintenance Performed at Double M Aviation
Our A&Ps at Double M Aviation in Lakeland can perform all of your scheduled and unscheduled maintenance in a timely and affordable manner. We offer 50-hour, 100-hour, annual, and progressive inspections as well as efficient responses to all unscheduled maintenance. Every aircraft is personally flown by our IA after each scheduled inspection so you can be confident that your aircraft is airworthy and ready for your next flight.
To learn more about our inspections and to schedule an aircraft inspection or maintenance, call us at 863-940-3450.
One of the most common questions in the aviation community, especially for beginning pilots and mechanics is: What are the aircraft categories and classifications? According to the FAA, an aircraft category refers to the “intended use or operating limits” of a particular group of aircraft. The classification of the aircraft refers to a group of aircraft with the same types of characteristics. However, the class and category is dependent on whether you are talking about pilot certificate ratings or aircraft categories and classes.
Aircraft categories are different depending on whether you are talking about the aircraft or the pilot’s certificate.
Pilot Certificate Categories
- Airplane – Engine-driven, fixed-wing aircraft
- Lighter-Than-Air – Aircraft that uses a gas that is lighter than air in order to rise and remain in the air.
- Powered Parachute – A powered type of aircraft that has a flexible wing, frame and wheels. The wing is not in the proper position or ready to provide lift until the aircraft is moving.
- Rotorcraft – Flight is maintained by one or more spinning rotors.
- Weight-Shift-Control – Also known as a hang glider. This aircraft contains a motor but is only directionally controlled by changes in the center of gravity rather than by control surfaces.
CFR 14 Aircraft Categories
- Acrobatic – These airplanes have no flight maneuver restrictions other than limitations posed by certain flight tests. They have a maximum of nine seats, not including pilot seats and that weigh no more than 12,500 pounds.
- Commuter – defined as a multi-engine, propeller-driven aircraft with 19 or fewer passenger seats and weighing less than 19,000 pounds.
- Experimental – Issued under a special airworthiness certificate. These aircraft are typically used for research and development, crew training, exhibition, air racing and market surveys. They can also include amateur-built or kit-built aircraft, and they can be light sport or unmanned aircraft.
- Light Sport (LSA) – Operates under a special airworthiness certificate. This is any sport aircraft that does not fall under the designations of kit-built, gyro-plane or transitioning ultralight.
- Limited – reserved for military aircraft that have been converted and/or modified for civilian use.
- Normal – Aircraft contains nine or fewer seats and has a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less. Not approved for acrobatic flight.
- Primary – These aircraft have special airworthiness certificates, and they are manufactured in accordance with a production certificate.
- Restricted – Aircraft designed for a specific use, such as agriculture, forest services, aerial surveying and weather control.
- Transport – More than 10 seats weighing more than 12,500 if jet engine. If piston-engine, greater than 19 seats and a maximum takeoff weight of more than 19,000 pounds.
- Utility – Contains nine seats or less not including pilots and has a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less. These airplanes are approved for limited aerobatics.
When we talk about aircraft classifications, we are talking about groups of aircraft that have similar flying characteristics when it comes to their propulsion, in-flight handling, and the way they land. Classifications also correspond closer to the airman certificate categories than they do the aircraft categories.
- Airplane – Single-engine land or sea or multi-engine land or sea
- Rotorcraft – helicopter or gyroplane
- Lighter-Than-Air – balloons or airships
- Powered Parachutes – land or sea
- Weight-Shift-Control- land or sea
Maintenance for Your Single-Engine or Multi-Engine Fixed-Wing Aircraft
Double M Aviation is your Lakeland headquarters for aircraft maintenance. Our A&Ps are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to inspecting, repairing, and maintaining acrobatic, utility, commuter, and normal single-engine and multi-engine piston, turbine and turboprop airplanes weighing less than 12,500 pounds. We offer piston and turboprop engine repair, airframe inspections, propeller balancing, exterior painting, and interior upgrades, all types of inspections, and certified weighing.
To get your aircraft maintenance and upgrades performed in a timely manner, call us at 863-940-3450.
At Double M, we truly enjoy hearing from our customers about what makes general aviation special to them. So we sat down with Jeff Hibbard, the owner and pilot of a Piper PA28R-200 we have maintained since 2016, to talk about his start in aviation and what makes owning this beautiful Piper Arrow so great.
The Piper Arrow–A General Aviation favorite
How did you get into aviation?
I’ve been into aviation as long as I can remember. I think the real genesis was my dad would take us out to the airport to watch the airplanes fly in and listen to the radios. That was our entertainment. I always knew since I was a young kid I wanted to be a pilot.
Why do you fly now? Is it more work or recreational?
A mixture of both. I do fly a lot for recreation, like sight-seeing. And I fly for business meetings up in Virginia. It’s a great way to avoid the hassle of commercial airliners. I also volunteer for Pilots N Paws to help bring animals from over-filled shelters to rescues in other areas. ((To read more about Jeff’s volunteer work with Pilots N Paws –and for adorable puppy pictures– check out our previous blog post.))
What do you enjoy most about YOUR airplane?
That it’s mine! I enjoy the freedom it allows me. I wanted an intermediate plane as my first, and the Arrow fits that niche of speed, performance, and complexity for me. It’s been a great fit for my needs. I had previously rented and had to book way in advance, you don’t know the maintenance and what has been done to the airplane. It just wasn’t convenient.
How long have we been maintaining your airplane?
Since I bought it, actually. March 2016. I found you guys when I saw this beautiful red Arrow and noticed the Double M maintenance sticker. I spoke with Audrey and she had such a great attitude, I was convinced. Then Mike came out with me to pick it up from Zephyrhills and bring it back here to Lakeland for the annual. It was that extra service that made me sure I wanted my maintenance done here.
What are you up to now with the Arrow? Any future plans?
Right now we are doing the annual and putting in all new windows, a new ELT emergency beacon, and a new wing walk. We’re also changing out some structural hinges, worn components, some small stuff like that. And in two weeks, I am taking a business trip to Norfolk that will segue into a pleasure trip up to Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m looking forward to that.
Want to see your aircraft featured by Double M Aviation?
Contact Justine and Audrey at 863-940-3450!
It takes a lot to become an aircraft mechanic. And it should! After all, when you have your aircraft inspected and repaired, you want to be confident that the technician is certified and qualified to perform the needed maintenance so your aircraft maintains its airworthiness. Here at Double M Aviation, we employ certified aircraft maintenance technicians who have passed all the required practical, oral and written exams.
Types of Aircraft Maintenance Technicians
There are three basic types of aircraft maintenance technicians. The type of maintenance performed or certification is related to the type of practical experience the individual received.
- Powerplant Technicians – Work on aircraft engines / powerplant
- Airframe Technicians – Work on all aircraft components except the engines / powerplant
- A&P Technicians – Work on both airframe and powerplant
FAA Aircraft Technician Requirements
The FAA requires that any individual who wishes to attain their aircraft maintenance technician certification must be at least 18 years of age and be able to read, speak and understand the English language. There are exceptions made for those who cannot read, speak or understand the English language, but in general, those airplane technicians are only authorized to work outside the United States.
The individual applying for their aircraft maintenance technician certification must have either 36 months of practical experience in the area they desire to test for or have attended and graduated from an FAA approved technical school for aircraft maintenance.
If the individual chooses to pursue his license via practical experience, they must receive at least 18 months of practical experience for each area of certification pursued (i.e. aircraft powerplants or aircraft airframes). So, an individual wishing to test for their powerplant certification must receive 18 months of practical instruction on powerplants. Additionally, if they wish to test for their aircraft certification they must receive 18 months of practical airframe experience.
To receive certification for both airframe and powerplant licenses, the individual must complete a minimum of 30 months of practical experience on both airframe and powerplant components at the same time. Upon the completion of this dual experience, the individual will be eligible to test for their A&P License.
Alternatively, individuals can also choose to attend and graduate from an FAA approved technical school for aircraft maintenance instead of attaining the required practical experience because the practical experience is often included within the aircraft technicians’ program.
After the individual has received the required aircraft maintenance training or educational program, he or she must pass a written test, an oral test and a practical test. Once these tests are passed, the aircraft technician’s certificate will be issued, and the individual may become an aircraft mechanic at long last.
FAA Repairman Certificates
FAA repairman certificates are available for individuals who work for an MRO, repair station, or air carrier. In order to get a repairman certificate, the individual must be at least 18 years old and read, speak, and understand the English language. The individual must be qualified to repair and maintain the aircraft and/or aircraft components, and they must work at and be recommended by their aviation employer. The FAA repairman certificate also requires a minimum of 18 months of practical experience or successful completion of a formal training course.
Transitioning from Military Aircraft Technician to Civilian Aircraft Technician
Individuals who worked on aircraft in the military may be able to transition some of that experience to their civilian aircraft maintenance technician certification. In order to become a certified aircraft maintenance technician, the individual must have either 18 months or 30 months of practical experience. In order for the military aircraft maintenance to qualify, the program must be approved by the FAA. A complete list of approved military aircraft maintenance technician specialties can be obtained at any local FSDO office.
In addition to being in a military program that is approved by the FAA, the individual must also present an official letter from the military employer that lists the specific duties and the dates while employed by the military.
Once all the documentation and experience has been verified, the individual must take and pass a written, oral, and practical examination in order to receive their aircraft maintenance technician certificate.
Aircraft Maintenance at Double M Aviation
Double M Aviation employs aircraft maintenance technicians who hold A&P licenses with years of experience working on general aviation aircraft while also providing a path for these experienced technicians to pass their knowledge on to apprentice technicians who require the practical experience needed to obtain their license. This means that we can perform all the needed repairs and required inspections on your piston-engine or turbine engine aircraft so that you can continue flying. If you need avionics or paint, our field also has a paint shop and an avionics shop.
For more information about our aircraft technicians and services, give us a call at 863-940-3450.
Do you know the difference between Hobbs and tach time? As an aircraft pilot or owner, the accuracy of your pilot and engine logbooks depends on your understanding of these two measurements of aircraft time.
Hobbs Time Explained
The Hobbs meter measures the hours the aircraft is being operated, and it was invented in 1938 by John Weston Hobbs. The switch controlling the Hobbs meter can be set to turn on when the Master switch is turned on, via oil pressure after the engine is started, or multiple other methods. The Hobbs meter records time as hours and tenths of hours, and it is a true measurement of how long the airplane is being operated. In other words, when an hour passes on your watch, an hour has passed on the Hobbs meter. Pilots should use Hobbs meter time when logging flight hours.
Tach Time Explained
Tach time is measured via the tachometer and can be compared to a car’s odometer. However, instead of measuring tire revolutions, the tachometer measures the number of propeller revolutions. The tachometer’s primary use is to measure engine hours, which are recorded in your airplane’s engine logbooks and used to determine when your airplane needs its 50 and 100-hour inspections.
Hobbs Time Measures Flight Time
As a student, pilot or flight instructor, you always want to use Hobbs time when you make entries into your pilot logbook as Hobbs time is a true measure of the time you were flying the aircraft, which is essential when building your flight time for your private pilot’s license and additional pilot certificates and ratings. If you use the tach time for your pilot logbooks entries, you could be shorting yourself on your flight hours because tach time can be as much as 20 percent lower than the Hobbs time.
Tach Time Measures Engine Time
The tachometer only matches the Hobbs meter when the aircraft is operating at cruise. When you pull back the throttle and lean the mixture, the propeller’s RPM slows, which slows the tachometer. The difference between the Hobbs meter and tachometer is greatest when descending and landing. In an effort to reduce engine wear and tear from students and pilots, some FBOs and flight schools charge by the tachometer hour instead of the Hobbs meter hour.
Tach Time and Aircraft Maintenance
Aircraft that are operated for hire are required to have 50 and 100-hour inspections. The timing of these inspections is calculated via the tachometer. For example, if your last 100-hour inspection was performed when the tachometer read 2,500 hours, you would need your next inspection would need to be performed at 2,600 hours. The FAA gives an additional 10 tachometer hours to travel to a certified aircraft maintenance center.
As an alternative, some aircraft owners opt to get progressive inspections, which can be done every 25 tachometer hours. These inspections are often much shorter than the traditional 50 and 100-hour inspections and can result in your airplane sitting in the hanger for less time, which means you’ll have more time to fly.
Aircraft Requirements for Tachometers and Hobbs Meters
FAA Part 91.205 lists the minimum equipment list for general aviation aircraft with standard airworthiness certificates. Under this part, all general aviation aircraft must have an operational airspeed indicator, altimeter, fuel gauge and a magnetic direction indicator. Applicable aircraft must also have a landing gear indicator and manifold pressure gauge. Each engine on the aircraft must also have a corresponding oil pressure gauge, temperature gauge and tachometer as well as other basic equipment for the safe operation of the aircraft.
General aviation aircraft are not required to have a Hobbs meter, but many aircraft used for hire and rental have them installed. If the aircraft does not have a Hobbs meter installed, the tachometer usually includes an hour meter.
Aircraft Inspections at Double M Aviation
Here at Double M Aviation in Lakeland, Florida, we can perform all the needed engine and airframe inspections on your general aviation aircraft. We offer 50-hour, 100-hour and annual airframe inspections as well as progressive inspections. If your airplane needs any repairs or maintenance, our experience A&Ps can notify you of the needed repairs and perform the required repairs in order to restore your aircraft’s airworthiness.
To get your questions answered about Hobbs and Tach time or to schedule your aircraft inspections and maintenance, call us at 863-940-3450.
At Double M Aviation, we are proud to partner with aviation programs that encourage pilots and their passengers to become more familiar with their aircraft. Earlier this month, we had the honor of hosting our third annual luncheon for the Bonanza & Baron Pilot Training weekend clinic at Lakeland-Linder Airport.
This specifically-tailored program provides pilots of Beechcraft airplanes the opportunity to learn from and fly with Certified Flight Instructors using their own type aircraft, as well as offering amazing Non-Pilot Companion courses to promote the knowledge-base and comfort of frequent flying passengers. This year, we heard from a 77-year old woman who performed her very first aircraft landing during this course! She was thrilled to have this new experience under her belt and highly praised the instructor who assisted her during her flight time.
The Saturday luncheon at the Double M hangar is our way of serving the great people we meet during BPT, hearing more about their experiences one-on-one, and showing them just what makes Lakeland-Linder a great place to land for a weekend getaway. The meal was catered by two local businesses, Patio850, whose food looked as amazing as it tasted, and Drica’s Favorites, whose coffees and fresh baked goods were a big hit!
We love to support the continuing education of pilots and their passengers, as well as showcasing what we do best, quality aircraft maintenance with no excuses. We celebrate another great BPT weekend clinic and look forward to next year!
If you would like more information about the Bonanza & Baron Pilot Training program, or to register for an upcoming clinic, please visit http://www.pbpt.org/.