Inspections are visual examinations and manual checks to determine the condition of an aircraft or component. An aircraft inspection can range from a casual walk around to a detailed inspection involving complete disassembly and the use of complex inspection aids.
An inspection system consists of several processes, including reports made by mechanics or the pilot or crew flying an aircraft and regularly scheduled inspections of an aircraft. An inspection system is designed to maintain an aircraft in the best possible condition.
Thorough and repeated inspections must be considered the backbone of a good maintenance program. Irregular and haphazard inspection will invariably result in gradual and certain deterioration of an aircraft. The time spent in repairing an abused aircraft often totals far more than any time saved in hurrying through routine
inspections and maintenance.
It has been proven that regularly scheduled inspections and preventive maintenance assure airworthiness.
Operating failures and malfunctions of equipment are appreciably reduced if excessive wear or minor defects are detected and corrected early. The importance of inspections and the proper use of records concerning these inspections cannot be overemphasized.
Airframe and engine inspections may range from pre-flight inspections to detailed inspections. The time intervals for the inspection periods vary with the models of aircraft involved and the types of operations being conducted. The airframe and engine manufacturer’s instructions should be consulted when establishing
Aircraft may be inspected using flight hours as a basis for scheduling, or on a calendar inspection system. Under the calendar inspection system, the appropriate inspection is performed on the expiration of a specified number of calendar weeks. The calendar inspection system is an efficient system from a maintenance management standpoint. Scheduled replacement of components with stated hourly operating limitations is normally accomplished during the calendar inspection falling nearest the hourly limitation.
In some instances, a flight hour limitation is established to limit the number of hours that may be flown during the calendar interval.
Aircraft operating under the flight hour system are inspected when a specified number of flight hours are accumulated. Components with stated hourly operating limitations are normally replaced during the inspection that falls nearest the hourly limitation.
Before starting an inspection, be certain all plates, access doors, fairings, and cowling have been opened or removed and the structure cleaned. When opening inspection plates and cowling and before cleaning the area, take note of any oil or other evidence of fluid
In order to conduct a thorough inspection, a great deal of paperwork and/or reference information must be accessed and studied before actually proceeding to the aircraft to conduct the inspection. The aircraft logbooks must be reviewed to provide background information and a maintenance history of the particular aircraft. The appropriate checklist or checklists must be utilized to ensure that no items will be forgotten or overlooked during the inspection. Also, many additional publications must be available, either in hard copy or in electronic format to assist in the inspections.
These additional publications may include information provided by the aircraft and engine manufacturers, appliance manufacturers, parts venders, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Aircraft logs,” as used in this handbook, is an inclusive term which applies to the aircraft logbook and all supplemental records concerned with the aircraft. They may come in a variety of formats. For a small aircraft, the log may indeed be a small 5″ × 8″ logbook. For
larger aircraft, the logbooks are often larger, in the form of a three-ring binder. Aircraft that have been in service for a long time are likely to have several logbooks.
The aircraft logbook is the record in which all data concerning the aircraft is recorded. Information gathered in this log is used to determine the aircraft condition, date of inspections, time on airframe, engines and propellers. It reflects a history of all significant events occurring to the aircraft, its components, and accessories, and provides a place for indicating compliance with FAA airworthiness directives or manufacturers’ service bulletins. The more comprehensive the logbook, the easier it is to understand the aircraft’s
When the inspections are completed, appropriate entries must be made in the aircraft logbook certifying that the aircraft is in an airworthy condition and may be returned to service. When making logbook entries, exercise special care to ensure that the entry can be clearly understood by anyone having a need to read it in the future. Also, if making a hand-written entry, use good penmanship and write legibly. To some degree, the organization, comprehensiveness, and appearance of the aircraft logbooks have an impact on the value of the aircraft. High quality logbooks can mean a higher value for the aircraft.
Always use a checklist when performing an inspection. The checklist may be of your own design, one provided by the manufacturer of the equipment being inspected, or one obtained from some other source. The checklist should include the following:
1. Fuselage and hull group.
a. Fabric and skin—for deterioration, distortion, other evidence of failure, and
defective or insecure attachment of fittings.
b. Systems and components—for proper installation, apparent defects, and satisfactory
c. Envelope gas bags, ballast tanks, and related parts—for condition.
2. Cabin and cockpit group.
a. Generally—for cleanliness and loose equipment that should be secured.
b. Seats and safety belts—for condition and security.
c. Windows and windshields—for deterioration and breakage.
d. Instruments—for condition, mounting, marking, and (where practicable) for proper
e. Flight and engine controls—for proper installation and operation.
f. Batteries—for proper installation and charge.
g. All systems—for proper installation, general condition, apparent defects, and security of
3. Engine and nacelle group.
a. Engine section—for visual evidence of excessive oil, fuel, or hydraulic leaks, and
sources of such leaks.
b. Studs and nuts—for proper torquing and obvious defects.
c. Internal engine—for cylinder compression and for metal particles or foreign matter on
screens and sump drain plugs. If cylinder compression is weak, check for improper
internal condition and improper internal tolerances.
d. Engine mount—for cracks, looseness of mounting, and looseness of engine to mount.
e. Flexible vibration dampeners—for condition and deterioration.
f. Engine controls—for defects, proper travel, and proper safety.
g. Lines, hoses, and clamps—for leaks, condition, and looseness.
h. Exhaust stacks—for cracks, defects, and proper attachment.
i. Accessories—for apparent defects in security of mounting.
j. All systems—for proper installation, general condition defects, and secure attachment.
k. Cowling—for cracks and defects.
l. Ground run-up and functional check—check all power-plant controls and systems for
correct response, all instruments for proper operation and indication.
4. Landing gear group.
a. All units—for condition and security of attachment.
b. Shock absorbing devices—for proper oleo fluid level.
c. Linkage, trusses, and members—for undue or excessive wear, fatigue, and distortion.
d. Retracting and locking mechanism—for proper operation.
e. Hydraulic lines—for leakage.
f. Electrical system—for chafing and proper operation of switches.
g. Wheels—for cracks, defects, and condition of bearings.
h. Tires—for wear and cuts.
i. Brakes—for proper adjustment.
j. Floats and skis—for security of attachment and obvious defects.
5. Wing and center section.
a. All components—for condition and security.
b. Fabric and skin—for deterioration, distortion, other evidence of failure, and security of
c. Internal structure (spars, ribs compression members)—for cracks, bends, and security.
d. Movable surfaces—for damage or obvious defects, unsatisfactory fabric or skin attachment and proper travel.
e. Control mechanism—for freedom of movement, alignment, and security.
f. Control cables—for proper tension, fraying, wear and proper routing through fairleads and pulleys.
6. Empennage group.
a. Fixed surfaces—for damage or obvious defects, loose fasteners, and security of
b. Movable control surfaces—for damage or obvious defects, loose fasteners, loose fabric,
or skin distortion.
c. Fabric or skin—for abrasion, tears, cuts or defects, distortion, and deterioration.
7. Propeller group.
a. Propeller assembly—for cracks, nicks, bends,and oil leakage.
b. Bolts—for proper torquing and safetying.
c. Anti-icing devices—for proper operation and obvious defects.
d. Control mechanisms—for proper operation, secure mounting, and travel.
8. Communication and navigation group.
a. Radio and electronic equipment—for proper installation and secure mounting.
b. Wiring and conduits—for proper routing, secure mounting, and obvious defects.
c. Bonding and shielding—for proper installation and condition.
d. Antennas—for condition, secure mounting, and proper operation.
a. Emergency and first aid equipment—for general condition and proper stowage.
b. Parachutes, life rafts, flares, and so forth— inspect in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
c. Autopilot system—for general condition, security of attachment, and proper operation.
Aeronautical publications are the sources of information for guiding aviation mechanics in the operation and maintenance of aircraft and related equipment.
The proper use of these publications will greatly aid in the efficient operation and maintenance of all aircraft.
These include manufacturers’ service bulletins, manuals, and catalogs; FAA regulations; airworthiness directives; advisory circulars; and aircraft, engine and propeller specifications. Manufacturers’ Service Bulletins/Instructions Service bulletins or service instructions are two of several types of publications issued by airframe, engine,
and component manufacturers.
The bulletins may include:
(1) purpose for issuing the publication
(2) name of the applicable airframe, engine, or component
(3) detailed instructions for service, adjustment, modification or inspection, and
source of parts, if required
(4) estimated number of man hours required to accomplish the job.
The manufacturer’s aircraft maintenance manual contains complete instructions for maintenance of all systems and components installed in the aircraft. It contains information for the mechanic who normally works on components, assemblies, and systems while they are installed in the aircraft, but not for the overhaul mechanic. A typical aircraft maintenance manual
• A description of the systems (i.e., electrical, hydraulic, fuel, control)
• Lubrication instructions setting forth the frequency and the lubricants and fluids which are to be used in the various systems,
• Pressures and electrical loads applicable to the various systems,
• Tolerances and adjustments necessary to proper functioning of the airplane,
• Methods of leveling, raising, and towing,
• Methods of balancing control surfaces,
• Identification of primary and secondary structures,
• Frequency and extent of inspections necessary to the proper operation of the airplane,
• Special repair methods applicable to the airplane,
• Special inspection techniques requiring x-ray, ultrasonic, or magnetic particle inspection
• A list of special tools.
The manufacturer’s overhaul manual contains brief descriptive information and detailed step by step instructions covering work normally performed on a unit that has been removed from the aircraft. Simple, inexpensive items, such as switches and relays on
which overhaul is uneconomical, are not covered i the overhaul manual.
Structural Repair Manual
This manual contains the manufacturer’s information and specific instructions for repairing primary and secondary structures. Typical skin, frame, rib, and stringer repairs are covered in this manual. Also included are material and fastener substitutions and special repair techniques.
Illustrated Parts Catalog
This catalog presents component breakdowns of structure and equipment in disassembly sequence. Also included are exploded views or cutaway illustrations for all parts and equipment manufactured by the aircraft manufacturer.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs)
The CFRs were established by law to provide for the safe and orderly conduct of flight operations and to prescribe airmen privileges and limitations. A knowledge of the CFRs is necessary during the performance of maintenance, since all work done on aircraft must
comply with CFR provisions.
A primary safety function of the FAA is to require correction of unsafe conditions found in an aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance when such conditions exist and are likely to exist or develop in other products of the same design. The unsafe condition may exist because of a design defect, maintenance, or other causes. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 39, Airworthiness Directives, defines the authority and responsibility of the Administrator for requiring the necessary corrective action.
The Airworthiness Directives (ADs) are published to notify aircraft owners and other interested persons of unsafe conditions and to prescribe the conditions under which the product may continue to be operated.
Airworthiness Directives are Federal Aviation Regulations and must be complied with unless specific exemption is granted.
Airworthiness Directives may be divided into two categories:
(1) those of an emergency nature requiring immediate compliance upon receipt and
(2) those of a less urgent nature requiring compliance within a relatively longer period of time. Also, ADs may be a onetime compliance item or a recurring item that requires future inspection on an hourly basis (accrued flight time since last compliance) or a calendar time basis.
The contents of ADs include the aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance model and serial numbers affected.
Also included are the compliance time or period, a description of the difficulty experienced, and the necessary corrective action.
Type Certificate Data Sheets
The type certificate data sheet (TCDS) describes the type design and sets forth the limitations prescribed by the applicable CFR part. It also includes any other limitations and information found necessary for type certification of a particular model aircraft.
Type certificate data sheets are numbered in the upper right-hand corner of each page. This number is the same as the type certificate number. The name of the type certificate holder, together with all of the approved models, appears immediately below the type certificate number. The issue date completes this group. This information is contained within a bordered text box to set it off.
The data sheet is separated into one or more sections. Each section is identified by a Roman numeral followed by the model designation of the aircraft to which the section pertains. The category or categories in which the aircraft can be certificated are shown in parentheses following the model number. Also included is the approval date shown on the type certificate.
The data sheet contains information regarding:
1. Model designation of all engines for which the aircraft manufacturer obtained approval for use with this model aircraft.
2. Minimum fuel grade to be used.
3. Maximum continuous and take-off ratings of the approved engines, including manifold pressure (when used), rpm, and horsepower (hp).
4. Name of the manufacturer and model designation for each propeller for which the aircraft manufacturer obtained approval will be shown together with the propeller limits and any operating restrictions peculiar to the propeller or propeller engine combination.
5. Airspeed limits in both mph and knots.
6. Center of gravity range for the extreme loading conditions of the aircraft is given in inches from the datum. The range may also be stated in percent of MAC (Mean Aerodynamic Chord) for transport category aircraft.
7. Empty weight center of gravity (CG) range (when established) will be given as fore and aft limits in inches from the datum. If no range exists, the word “none” will be shown following the heading on the data sheet.
8. Location of the datum.
9. Means provided for leveling the aircraft.
10. All pertinent maximum weights.
11. Number of seats and their moment arms.
12. Oil and fuel capacity.
13. Control surface movements.
14. Required equipment.
15. Additional or special equipment found necessary for certification.
16. Information concerning required placards.
It is not within the scope of this handbook to list all the items that can be shown on the type certificate data sheets. Those items listed above serve only to acquaint aviation mechanics with the type of information generally included on the data sheets. Type certificate data sheets may be many pages in length. Figure 8-1 shows a typical TCDS.
When conducting a required or routine inspection, it is necessary to ensure that the aircraft and all the major items on it are as defined in the type certificate data
sheets. This is called a conformity check, and verifies that the aircraft conforms to the specifications of the aircraft as it was originally certified. Sometimes alterations are made that are not specified or authorized in the TCDS. When that condition exists, a supplemental type certificate (STC) will be issued. STCs are considered a
part of the permanent records of an aircraft, and should be maintained as part of that aircraft’s logs.
For the purpose of determining their overall condition, 14 CFR provides for the inspection of all civil aircraft at specific intervals, depending generally upon the type of operations in which they are engaged. The pilot in command of a civil aircraft is responsible for determining whether that aircraft is in condition for safe flight.
Therefore, the aircraft must be inspected before each flight. More detailed inspections must be conducted by aviation maintenance technicians at least once each 12 calendar months, while inspection is required for others after each 100 hours of flight. In other instances, an aircraft may be inspected in accordance with a system set up to provide for total inspection of the aircraft over a calendar or flight time period.
To determine the specific inspection requirements and rules for the performance of inspections, refer to the CFR, which prescribes the requirements for the inspection and maintenance of aircraft in various types of operations.
Pilots are required to follow a checklist contained within the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) when operating aircraft. The first section of a checklist includes a section entitled Pre-flight Inspection. The pre-flight inspection checklist includes a “walk-around” section listing items that the pilot is to visually check for general condition as he or she walks around the airplane. Also, the pilot must ensure that fuel, oil and other items required for flight are at the proper levels and not contaminated. Additionally, it is the pilot’s responsibility to review the airworthiness certificate, maintenance records, and other required paperwork to verify that the aircraft is indeed airworthy. After each flight, it is recommended that the pilot or mechanic conduct a post-flight inspection to detect any problems that might require repair or servicing before the next flight.
Figure 8-1. Type certificate data sheet.
Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91 discusses the basic requirements for annual and 100-hour inspections. With some exceptions, all aircraft must have a complete inspection annually.
Aircraft that are used for commercial purposes and are likely to be used more frequently than non-commercial aircraft must have this complete inspection every 100 hours. The scope and detail of items to be included in annual and 100-hour inspections is included as appendix D of 14 CFR part 43 and shown as Figure 8-2.
A properly written checklist, such as the one shown earlier in this chapter, will include all the items of appendix D. Although the scope and detail of annual and 100-hour inspections is identical, there are two significant differences. One difference involves persons
authorized to conduct them. A certified airframe and power-plant maintenance technician can conduct a 100-hour inspection, whereas an annual inspection must be conducted by a certified airframe and power-plant maintenance technician with inspection authorization (IA). The other difference involves authorized over-flight of the maximum 100 hours before inspection.
An aircraft may be flown up to 10 hours beyond the 100-hour limit if necessary to fly to a destination where the inspection is to be conducted.
Because the scope and detail of an annual inspection is very extensive and could keep an aircraft out of service for a considerable length of time, alternative inspection programs
Figure 8-2. Scope and detail of annual and 100-hour inspections.
designed to minimize down time may be utilized. A progressive inspection program allows an aircraft to be inspected progressively. The scope and detail of an annual inspection is essentially divided into segments or phases (typically four to
six). Completion of all the phases completes a cycle that satisfies the requirements of an annual inspection.
The advantage of such a program is that any required segment may be completed overnight and thus enable the aircraft to fly daily without missing any revenue earning potential. Progressive inspection programs include routine items such as engine oil changes and detailed items such as flight control cable inspection.
Routine items are accomplished each time the aircraft comes in for a phase inspection and detailed items focus on detailed inspection of specific areas. Detailed inspections are typically done once each cycle. A cycle must be completed within 12 months. If all required phases are not completed within 12 months, the remaining phase inspections must be conducted before the end of the 12th month from when the first phase was
Each registered owner or operator of an aircraft desiring to use a progressive inspection program must submit a written request to the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) having jurisdiction over the area in which the applicant is located. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, §91.409(d) establishes procedures to be followed for progressive inspections and is shown in Figure 8-3.
Figure 8-3. 14 CFR §91.409(d) Progressive inspection.
Continuous inspection programs are similar to progressive inspection programs, except that they apply to large or turbine-powered aircraft and are therefore more complicated.
Like progressive inspection programs, they require approval by the FAA Administrator. The approval may be sought based upon the type of operation and the CFR parts under which the aircraft will be operated.
The maintenance program for commercially operated aircraft must be detailed in the approved operations specifications (OpSpecs) of the commercial certificate
Airlines utilize a continuous maintenance program that includes both routine and detailed inspections.
However, the detailed inspections may include different levels of detail. Often referred to as “checks,” the A-check, B-check, C-check, and D-checks involve increasing levels of detail. A-checks are the least comprehensive and occur frequently. D-checks, on the other
hand, are extremely comprehensive, involving major disassembly, removal, overhaul, and inspection of systems and components. They might occur only three to six times during the service life of an aircraft.
Altimeter and Transponder Inspections
Aircraft that are operated in controlled airspace under instrument flight rules (IFR) must have each altimeter and static system tested in accordance with procedures described in 14 CFR part 43, appendix E, within the preceding 24 calendar months. Aircraft having an air traffic control (ATC) transponder must also have each transponder checked within the preceding 24 months.
All these checks must be conducted by appropriately certified individuals.
ATA iSpec 2200
In an effort to standardize the format for the way in which maintenance information is presented in aircraft maintenance manuals, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) issued specifications for Manufacturers Technical Data. The original specification was called ATA Spec 100. Over the years, Spec 100 has been continuously revised and updated. Eventually, ATA Spec 2100 was developed for electronic documentation.
These two specifications evolved into one document called ATA iSpec 2200. As a result of this standardization, maintenance technicians can always find information regarding a particular system in the same section of an aircraft maintenance manual, regardless of manufacturer. For example, if you are seeking information about the electrical system on
any aircraft, you will always find that information in section (chapter) 24.
The ATA Specification 100 has the aircraft divided into systems, such as air conditioning, which covers the basic air conditioning system (ATA 21). Numbering in each major system provides an arrangement for breaking the system down into several subsystems. Late model aircraft, both over and under the 12,500 pound designation, have their parts manuals and maintenance manuals arranged according to the ATA coded system.
The following abbreviated table of ATA System, Subsystem, and Titles is included for familiarization purposes.
ATA Specification 100Systems
Sys. Sub. Title
21 AIR CONDITIONING
21 00 General
21 10 Compression
21 20 Distribution
21 30 Pressurization Control
21 40 Heating
21 50 Cooling
21 60 Temperature Control
21 70 Moisture/Air Contaminate Control
The remainder of this list shows the systems and title with subsystems deleted in the interest of brevity. Consult specific aircraft maintenance manuals for a complete description of the subsystems used in them.
22 AUTO FLIGHT
24 ELECTRICAL POWER
26 FIRE PROTECTION
27 FLIGHT CONTROLS
29 HYDRAULIC POWER
30 ICE AND RAIN PROTECTION
31 INDICATING/RECORDING SYSTEMS
32 LANDING GEAR
39 ELECTRICAL/ELECTRONIC PANELS AND
49 AIRBORNE AUXILIARY POWER
72 (T) TURBINE/TURBOPROP
72 (R) ENGINE RECIPROCATING
73 ENGINE FUEL AND CONTROL
75 BLEED AIR
76 ENGINE CONTROLS
77 ENGINE INDICATING
78 ENGINE EXHAUST
79 ENGINE OIL
81 TURBINES (RECIPROCATING ENG)
82 WATER INJECTION
83 REMOTE GEAR BOXES (ENG DR)
Keep in mind that not all aircraft will have all these systems installed. Small and simple aircraft have far fewer systems than larger more complex aircraft.
During the service life of an aircraft, occasions may arise when something out of the ordinary care and use of an aircraft might happen that could possibly affect its airworthiness. When these situations are encountered, special inspection procedures should be followed to determine if damage to the aircraft structure has occurred. The procedures outlined on the following pages are general in nature and are intended
to acquaint the aviation mechanic with the areas which should be inspected. As such, they are not all inclusive.
When performing any of these special inspections, always follow the detailed procedures in the aircraft maintenance manual. In situations where the manual does not adequately address the situation, seek advice from other maintenance technicians who are highly
experienced with them.
Hard or Overweight Landing Inspection
The structural stress induced by a landing depends not only upon the gross weight at the time but also upon the severity of impact. However, because of the difficulty in estimating vertical velocity at the time of contact, it is hard to judge whether or not a landing has been
sufficiently severe to cause structural damage. For this reason, a special inspection should be performed after a landing is made at a weight known to exceed the design landing weight or after a rough landing, even though the latter may have occurred when the aircraft did not exceed the design landing weight.
Wrinkled wing skin is the most easily detected sign of an excessive load having been imposed during a landing.
Another indication which can be detected easily is fuel leakage along riveted seams. Other possible locations of damage are spar webs, bulkheads, nacelle skin and attachments, firewall skin, and wing and fuselage stringers. If none of these areas show adverse effects, it is reasonable to assume that no serious damage has occurred. If damage is detected, a more extensive inspection and alignment check may be necessary.
Severe Turbulence Inspection/Over “G”
When an aircraft encounters a gust condition, the airload on the wings exceeds the normal wingload supporting the aircraft weight. The gust tends to accelerate the aircraft while its inertia acts to resist this change. If the combination of gust velocity and airspeed is too severe, the induced stress can cause structural damage.
A special inspection should be performed after a flight through severe turbulence. Emphasis should be placed upon inspecting the upper and lower wing surfaces for excessive buckles or wrinkles with permanent set.
Where wrinkles have occurred, remove a few rivets and examine the rivet shanks to determine if the rivets have sheared or were highly loaded in shear.
Through the inspection doors and other accessible openings, inspect all spar webs from the fuselage to the tip. Check for buckling, wrinkles, and sheared attachments. Inspect for buckling in the area around the nacelles and in the nacelle skin, particularly at the wing leading edge.
Check for fuel leaks. Any sizeable fuel leak is an indication that an area may have received overloads which have broken the sealant and opened the seams.
If the landing gear was lowered during a period of severe turbulence, inspect the surrounding surfaces carefully for loose rivets, cracks, or buckling. The interior of the wheel well may give further indications of excessive gust conditions. Inspect the top and bottom fuselage skin. An excessive bending moment may have left wrinkles of a diagonal nature in these areas.
Inspect the surface of the empennage for wrinkles, buckling, or sheared attachments. Also, inspect the area of attachment of the empennage to the fuselage. The above inspections cover the critical areas. If excessive damage is noted in any of the areas mentioned, the inspection should be continued until all damage is detected.
Although lightning strikes to aircraft are extremely rare, if a strike has occurred, the aircraft must be carefully inspected to determine the extent of any damage that might have occurred. When lightning strikes an aircraft, the electrical current must be conducted through the structure and be allowed to discharge or dissipate at controlled locations. These controlled locations are primarily the aircraft’s static discharge wicks, or on more sophisticated aircraft, null field dischargers.
When surges of high voltage electricity pass through good electrical conductors, such as aluminum or steel, damage is likely to be minimal or non-existent. When surges of high voltage electricity pass through non-metallic structures, such as a fiberglass radome, engine cowl or fairing, glass or plastic window, or a composite structure that does not have built-in electrical bonding, burning and more serious damage to the structure could occur. Visual inspection of the structure is required. Look for evidence of degradation, burning or erosion of the composite resin at all affected structures, electrical bonding straps, static discharge wicks and null field dischargers.
Inspection of aircraft structures that have been subjected to fire or intense heat can be relatively simple if visible damage is present. Visible damage requires repair or replacement. If there is no visible damage, the structural integrity of an aircraft may still have been compromised. Since most structural metallic components of an aircraft have undergone some sort of heat treatment process during manufacture, an exposure to high heat not encountered during normal operations could severely degrade the design strength of the structure. The strength and airworthiness of an aluminum structure that passes a visual inspection but is still suspect can be further determined by use of a conductivity tester. This is a device that uses eddy current and is discussed later in this chapter. Since strength of metals is related to hardness, possible damage to steel structures might be determined by use of a hardness tester such as a Rockwell C hardness tester.
Like aircraft damaged by fire, aircraft damaged by water can range from minor to severe, depending on the level of the flood water, whether it was fresh or salt water and the elapsed time between the flood occurrence and when repairs were initiated. Any parts
that were totally submerged should be completely disassembled, thoroughly cleaned, dried and treated with a corrosion inhibitor. Many parts might have to be replaced, particularly interior carpeting, seats, side panels, and instruments. Since water serves as an electrolyte that promotes corrosion, all traces of water and salt must be removed before the aircraft can again be considered airworthy.
Because they operate in an environment that accelerates corrosion, seaplanes must be carefully inspected for corrosion and conditions that promote corrosion.
Inspect bilge areas for waste hydraulic fluids, water, dirt, drill chips, and other debris. Additionally, since seaplanes often encounter excessive stress from the pounding of rough water at high speeds, inspect for loose rivets and other fasteners; stretched, bent or cracked skins; damage to the float attach fitting; and general wear and tear on the entire structure.
Aerial Application Aircraft
Two primary factors that make inspecting these aircraft different from other aircraft are the corrosive nature of some of the chemicals used and the typical flight profile.
Damaging effects of corrosion may be detected in a much shorter period of time than normal use aircraft.
Chemicals may soften the fabric or loosen the fabric tapes of fabric covered aircraft. Metal aircraft may need to have the paint stripped, cleaned, and repainted and corrosion treated annually. Leading edges of wings and other areas may require protective coatings or tapes.
Hardware may require more frequent replacement. During peak use, these aircraft may fly up to 50 cycles (take-offs and landings) or more in a day, most likely from an unimproved or grass runway. This can greatly accelerate the failure of normal fatigue items. Landing
gear and related items require frequent inspections. Because these aircraft operate almost continuously at very low altitudes, air filters tend to become obstructed more rapidly.