Now it is time to remove all necessary inspection plates, access doors, fairings, and cowlings, and thoroughly clean the aircraft and engine. Not only is cleaning a good practice, it is a requirement. (FAR 43 appendix D). Removing all debris and contaminants is crucial for detecting defects. If left in place, debris can cause moisture traps that can lead to corrosion problems. A clean aircraft is also appealing to the customer and may help to ensure repeat business.
Time to inspect
Now that the aircraft is clean, it is time to perform the inspection. If you were thorough in your research, this step will be easier. Remember that you need to use a checklist when performing the annual inspection. This checklist can be of your own design, one provided by the manufacturer of the equipment being inspected, or one obtained from another source. Wherever the checklist comes from, it must include all of the items contained in FAR 43 appendix D. and FAR 43.15(b) for rotorcraft.
Although the checklist included in appendix D includes items applicable to the whole aircraft, we will concentrate on those items particular to the engine area. They include the following:
(1) Engine section – for visual evidence of excessive oil, fuel, or hydraulic leaks, and sources of such leaks. Thorough cleaning of the engine area is helpful in locating leaks. Prior to cleaning, be sure to note any fluids present that may indicate leaks. This gives a general idea of a possible problem area. These areas can be re-inspected after the engine run to locate any leaks.
(2) Studs and nuts – for improper torquing and obvious defects. This doesn’t mean that you have to check the torque of every stud and nut, but they should be inspected carefully for any evidence of improper torquing and defects.
(3) Internal engine – for cylinder compression and for metal particles or foreign matter on screens and sump drain plugs. If there is weak cylinder compression, for improper internal condition and improper internal tolerances. This is pretty much self-explanatory. This covers the cylinder compression check on recip engines. It also calls out for internal condition and tolerance inspection in the event of a low compression result.
(4) Engine mount – for cracks, looseness of mounting, and looseness of engine to mount.
(5) Flexible vibration dampners – for poor condition and deterioration.
(6) Engine controls – for defects, improper travel, and improper safetying. Be sure to also check for proper lubrication as required which may have been removed during the cleaning phase.
(7) Lines, hoses, and clamps – for leaks, improper condition, and looseness. Routing of lines and hoses should be checked to ensure that there is no chafing.
(8) Exhaust stacks – for cracks, defects, and improper attachment.
(9) Accessories – for apparent defects in security of mounting.
(10) All systems – for improper installation, poor general condition, defects, and insecure attachment.
(11) Cowling – for cracks and defects.
After the inspection is completed, the engine needs to be run in accordance with FAR 43.15(2). This run is used to determine satisfactory performance in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations of power output (static and idle r.p.m.), magnetos, fuel and oil pressure, and cylinder and oil temperature.
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If a handwritten logbook entry is neat, well-organized, readable, and signed with pride, you can be confident that 99 times out of 100 the work performed is airworth