Maintaining your Aircraft During the Pandemic
It’s a chicken and egg situation: If you’re an aircraft or a small aircraft owner, you know that aircraft maintenance or small aircraft maintenance requires that you fly your plane from time (if not as often as possible). You do this for business or for your own pleasure.
But due to COVID-19 and what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calls The Great Lockdown, travel has been restricted, including air travel. Rules may vary from state to state (as they do from country to country), but it still affects you and your aircraft.
So if you don’t fly, your aircraft maintenance costs increase. If you don’t fly, you are not earning the money to support the said maintenance costs anyway. Then there’s the hangar cost, insurance, engine maintenance, and — if you fly — fuel cost.
Something has to give. What can you do?
Take matters into your own hands
Steve Ells writes in flyingmag.com (2011) that “inactivity…increases the likelihood of engine rust and the seals in assemblies such as shock struts, brakes, and fuel selector valves are more apt to need replacement.”
Taking matters into your own hands means, literally, that you work on your aircraft maintenance and repair with your own hands. In the same article, Ells says this means “oil, wrenches, safety wire, green nitrile gloves, and screwdrivers.”
There are a number of preventive maintenance tasks that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows owners to perform and sign off on:
- Changing the engine and oil filter
- Changing landing gear tires
- Greasing wheel bearings
- Changing landing light bulbs
- Changing navigation light bulbs
- Lubricating the airframe
- Changing side windows
- Servicing landing gear shock struts with oil or air
- Patching fairings, cowlings, cover plates
- Repairing landing-light and navigation-light wiring
Add to these the regular updating of navigation and communication data every 28 days (required of Instrument Flight Rules or IFR fliers) plus the removal and replacement (R&R) of navigation-communication (navcom) units and many navigators.
But first, find a mentor
Books, YouTube videos, and other materials may be out there for you to refer to, but nothing compares to having a competent and compassionate A&P (short for Airframe and Powerplant, another name for Aviation Maintenance Technician) who can teach you to become a mechanically-involved aircraft owner.
So for now, use your hands to surf the net, make that call, or send that email to an aircraft servicing company that can help you get started. Good luck!