EASA Requirements Exercise 2: Preparation for and action after flight (A) flight authorisation and aeroplane acceptance; (B) serviceability documents; (C) equipment required, maps, etc.; (D) external checks; (E) internal checks; (F) harness, seat or rudder panel adjustments; (G) starting and warm-up checks; (H) power checks; (I) running down system checks and switching off the engine; (J) parking, security and picketing (for example tie down); (K) completion of authorisation sheet and serviceability documents.
In this lesson we will perform a flight preparation, the pre-flight checks, followed by a short introduction flight and the post flight actions.
The key elements of the pre-flight check are
- Aircraft status
- Am I safe?
Let’s start with the paperwork and have that out of the way before we go to the aircraft. The following documents must be present and, where applicable, not expired
- Journal or tech-log and Deferred item list.
- Check the last entries and see if there are any reported faults.
- Make a new entry for your flight.
- Write down the name and signature of the captain
- Certificates of airworthiness (check date)
- Certificate of registration
- Noise certificate
- Insurance documents (check date)
- Weight schedule
- Maps for the planned flying areas (check date)
Make a weight and balance calculation. For the introduction lesson, the instructor will normally make one for you. Read here about how it is done.
Notice To Airman contain messages that may be relevant to pilots. for example, unscheduled closure of airports, temporarily restricted airspace, new obstacles and so on. It is mandatory to read them and good practice to draw all relevant notams in your maps.
Notams can be quite cryptic, so again it is advisable to have a look at them together with the instructor. Here is an example of a notam.
B) FROM: 15/04/10 09:07C) TO: PERM
E) FUEL EURO 95/98 NO LONGER AVBL.
NEW FUEL TYPE AVGAS UL91 NOW AVAILABLE.
REF AIP EHLE AD 2.4.
There are many places to retrieve the notams. A good location is the NATS AIS website. It is free of charge, but registration is required.
The weather check should contain current and forecast weather for the entire flight time, for all the relevant airports and the route.
Most airports have their own weather station and produce (automated) weather reports and forecasts called METAR and TAF (METeorological Actual Report and Terminal Area Forecast) These abbreviated messages contain useful information about the current and foretasted weather at the airport. Skyvector is a good source. It also shows winds aloft. Use as many sources as you can find like a local rainfall radar, satellite pictures and weather charts (see links for example websites).
Finally make a GO/NO-GO decision. Is the weather marginal? Remember that it is always better -being down here, wishing you where up there, than being up there wishing you where down here!
Do a pre-flight briefing to rehearse the upcoming flight. Even if you fly solo, just brief your self.
The briefing should contain
- Aircraft status
- Fuel requirements
- Technical deficiencies
- Departure, en route and arrival
- Departure aerodrome
- The expected routes and the runway in use
- Performance limits and take off speeds
- En route
- terrain, navigation aids, airspace, alternate airports
- Arrival aerodrome
- The expected routes and the runway in use
- Performance limits and reference speeds
Am I safe?
Did you eat and drink well? Do you feel healthy? No blocked nose? Not had any alcohol in the last 10 hours? Did to go to the bathroom? Bring a bottle of water in your flight bag? …
Also check that you brought your passport, licence, medical and logbook.
… Good, let’s go and find our aircraft. Don’t forget to take the keys with you!
First we should get a general impression of the state of the aircraft. Is there any obvious damage? snow on the wing? or is it standing in a puddle of oil? For now, let’s assume the person flying before you left it tidily and the aircraft is fully serviceable.
Remove all the chocks, covers and tie-downs and other ground handling stuff we don’t need any more.
Park the aircraft on a flat apron in such a way that you can taxi away easily. Use a tow-bar to steer the nose wheel and don’t push on the spinner. The spinner can bend and that can cause unpleasant vibrations in flight.
If it is windy, park the aircraft with the nose in the wind and also do not park with the tail towards an open hangar or terraces. You don’t want your spectators to spill their coffee when you start the engine.
Open de cockpit door and have a look (and smell) around. If everything is fine at first sight, no smell of fuel, let’s continue.
Set the parking brake by pulling the lever. Make sure that all the electrical switches off and all circuit breakers in. Then switch the battery to ON, as well as the exterior lights and the pitot heat.
Check the lights and carefully feel if the pitot heat warms up. Also look if the two holes, (for static and total pressure) are not blocked. Check the stall warning flipper, listen for the warning sound or look for the lamp, depending on version.
Then go back into the cockpit and switch the lights and the pitot heat off. Set the fuel selector to the left tank and test the electric fuel pump by switching it on briefly and listen for operation and observe a fuel pressure rise at the respective gauge. Also note the fuel quantity gauges. switch the pump off. now check the interior lights. Plug in and test your headset. There after switch off all electric switches and the battery switch. Adjust the seat position and the seatbelt adjustments and stow flight planning where you can reach it.
Set the flaps down to 40 degrees by pulling the lever. Careful not to stand on a deflected flap. The lock that supports weight works only in the up position.
Perform the walk around as described in the flight manual, check all the hinges and connectors of the flaps and ailerons. Count if all the static wicks are present. Their purpose is to reduce static interference on the radio’s.
In the fuel tank is a tab. If tab is in the fuel you have more than 17 USG in that tank. A full tank is 24 USG of usable fuel.
You can judge the type of fuel by its colour. Avgas is blue. Some variants can also run on ‘mogas’ which is yellow.
There is a drain point under the wing. Use it to clear any water and contamination from the fuel.
Check the landing gear, tires and brake assembly for leaks and damage. Clean the the windscreen with warm water and a soft cloth only.
The oil level should indicate between 4 and 6 qt and top-up as required. It is possible to fill up to 8qt of Oil, but you should only do so if you plan for a long trip. Any oil above 6qt may leak out via the vent tube and make a mess on the underside of the aircraft.
Only use the exact same oil type that is already in there. When in doubt, ask an engineer. A qt. Is a quarter USG and is is approximately one litre.
Close the oil cap, but not too tight, when the engine warms up, the metal extends and it can damage the thread.
At the front of the aircraft, the propeller and spinner are checked for damage.
The cooling ribs of the engine need to be clear. Feel behind the spinner if the alternator belt is under tension.
The ignition of the engine is independent from the electrical system. Therefore always check if the ignition is OFF before turning the propeller.
When you rotate the propeller with your hands you can hear click sound and a a spring unloading. This is the impulse coupling magneto system. More about that later. Now you just need to know that it is a normal sound.
Now drain the fuel strainer and check for contamination. This only works if the fuel selector is not in the closed position.
Repeat the same checks for the left wing.
Check the general condition of the aerials above and below the aircraft. The long antennas are VHF antennas for the com and nav radios. The little shark fins are the UHF aerials for the DME and the transponder. Radio and antennae layout may differ a bit per aircraft.
The tail section is checked in a similar way as the wings, check the static wicks and hinges.
Place all the luggage in the baggage compartment and secure them to the floor with with the provided straps. Verify the weights of the luggage, passengers and fuel on your load sheet and amend as required.
It is good practice to consult the aircaft manual and check if you didn’t skip any pre-flight items items listed.
Engine start and taxi out
Have a seat and get organised. To work tidy is of great importance when it comes to flight safety. Everyone may have his or her preferences, I personally keep documents at hand in a small flight bag and only keep the minimum required paperwork on an A5 size kneepad that I keep in the side pocket with the checklist. Have a pen at hand but keep other loose objects, such as coins, lighters and other FOD to a minimum or keep it in a closed bag.
The start procedure on a controlled airport is slightly different, we focus now on start-up and flight from an uncontrolled aerodrome.
Set the master battery switch, the fuel pump and the beacon light ON.
Open the window and shout ‘clear prop’
Set the mixture Rich and the throttle 5mm open.
Prime between 1x on a warm day or with a warm engine, and up to 4x on a cold day.
Set the magnetos to both and press the start button. Set go as soon as the engine starts or after 10 seconds. wait 30 seconds and prime for a second attempt. Do not do more then 3 start attempts to avoid overheating of the battery and start motor.
When the engine runs, adjust the throttle for 1000 RPM, check for oil pressure. Switch the fuel pump off and check the fuel pressure.
Check the generator load, let the battery recharge a bit until the ammeter shows below 20 Amps, before turning on the electric consumers.
The engine needs a few minutes to warm up. Use the time to do your avionics setup. For today we only need the local com radio frequency to report our intentions and listen for other traffic.
It is possible that the RPM gradually drops during whilst ground ground idling, especially on moist days. This is caused by carburettor icing. The air in the carburettor is significantly colder then the outside air temperature. Carb-Icing can occur almost an any temperature. To prevent this, we need to pull the carb-heat lever. Inlet air is now rerouted via the exhaust muffler and enters the engine at a higher temperature. However, heated carburettor inlet air is not filtered and should be used with caution on the ground.
When the engine is warm, we can taxi to the runway. Turn on the taxi-light or if there is not one installed, the landing light. Release the parking brake by pulling the lever a bit, then push it forward with your thumb. Keep your feet on the brakes for now.
Look outside and confirm it is safe to taxi. Now simply release the brakes and the aircraft starts to roll forward.
The engine run-up
Stop the aircraft at the holding position. Parking brake on, en taxi-light off.
Switch the fuel selector to the right tank, and gently apply power until it reaches 2000rpm. To check the two magneto ignition systems, we select the mag selector (with the key). To Left and observe an RPM drop of not more than 150. Now select the right magneto. This may also be 150 less then 2000, but not more then 75 difference with left.
Set the magnetos to both and pull the carb heat. Observe a slight RPM drop due to the lower density in the warm inlet air. Let it warm up for a few seconds before departure, then Carb-heat off.
Now reduce the throttle to idle, you must be able to reduce the RPM below 1000. Reset 1000 RPM, switch the fuel pump on,
Set the trims correct, test correct operation of the flight controls and complete the before take-off checklist.
Keep a good lookout and report your intentions over the radio before turning onto the runway. Turn on the landing lights, strobe lights and the transponder. Now the aircraft is ready for departure.
The introduction flight will continue in the next exercise, But to stay compliant with EASA I will tell you what to do after landing first.
When clear of the runway, select the flaps up, carb-heat pushed off, fuel pump off, strobes lights and transponder off. (if installed, taxi light on, landing light off)
…and when the aircraft is parked
Parking brake set, 1000rpm, taxi-light off.
Avionics off and mixture idle-cutoff
When the engine has fully stopped:
Magnetos off, beacon light off and battery off.
After the flight, we need to do a few more administrative tasks.
- Complete the aircraft journal or tech-log entries
- Write down the take-off and landing times
- Calculate the flight times and the remaining hours to service
- Write down any technical issues that have occurred
- If a safety issue has occurred, file a flight safety report
- If you had a flight plan filed, confirm that it is closed
This concludes the classroom briefing for exercise 2. Watch the video to see the preparation and start up procedures, the shut-down and post flight procedures.
Now most of the technical and formal stuff is behind us. From now on the focus is mainly on actual flying.
See you soon at Exercise 3! “Air experience”
- add pictures
- make video