Aircraft Inspections

All aircraft, be they transport, civil, military or experimental, require certain inspections at certain times. The inspections and time for accomplishment varies from aircraft to aircraft.

For our experimental homebuilt aircraft, the manufacturer of the kit will normally provide you with a list of items to check and at what flight hour interval. Some of these inspections are very easy and others may require a more in-depth approach. No matter the case, the inspection needs to be accomplished in accordance with the inspection instructions or checklist to maintain the airworthiness of the gyroplane.

Common inspection cycles can be every 25 flight hours or three months. This means whichever comes first. If you hit the calander time before you have flown off the hours it is still time to do the inspection. Maintenance cycles and lubrication requirements follow the same type of system. As an example: It is like the oil and filter on your car- every 3,000 miles or 3 months whichever comes first.

Most inspections are general looks for serviceability but some can be very specific on what to look for, so be sure to read and understand what it is you are to be doing. If in doubt call the manufacturer. Not a friend or instructor unless they are a factory represenative as anyone else may be performing the inspection in a wrong fashion. If the information provided was not clear enough, get it straight from the source. It doesn't make you look like an idiot it makes you look smart and safe.

Every year you will be required to perform an annual condition inspection of your gyroplane if registered in the United States. Other countries usually have a similar requirement but may call the inspection by a different name. This is a very thorough inspection of the entire aircraft and it will be unique to your type of gyroplane as well as the components and kits installed.

I'll try and give you some suggestions that can possibly save you some time and money as far as the annual condition inspection is concerned.

1. Repair or replace broken or worn out components as you find them. Fix an item as it occurs will prevent you from having a whole laundry list of things to do at the condition inpection. It can also prevent further wear and tear or damage that may require additional parts and maintenance further increasing the cost and down time to complete the repair. This approach to your maintenance will also keep your ship in tip top shape at any given time.

2. Have support tools and regular replacement parts on hand before the inspection starts. The inspection cannot occur if you do not have the tools and filters, plugs or bolts or anything else that is called out to be changed. Time replacement parts have a definitive service life and must be replaced regardless of condition. As a homebuilt aircraft this is normally worded as a suggested replacement time - heed the warning and change it. This can save you a lot of down time especially if a part is out of stock with the supplier. So get it ordered early to have on hand for the inspetion.

3. Perform regular inspections and lubrication in accordance with the kit maunfacturers recommended times. This may need to be modified for your area of operation where more frequent lubrication or filter cleaning or replacement is reguired because of environmental reasons. Never extend inspections or lubrication beyond the kit manufacturers times as inadequate lubrication or failure to inspect or perform maintenance can quickly wear down or destroy a part or component.

4. Regularly check for and treat corrosion. If caught in it's early stages of development corrosion can easily be removed and treated. Let corrosion get out of control and a lot of time and money can be absorbed to return the ship to an airworthy condition.

5. Replace wear items like belts, tires and hoses when they show signs of needed replacement even if it is before the normal expected service life.

It's not a lot to do and does not take up a lot of time to keep things moving along safely and smoothly. Review the kit manufacturers' inspection recommendations and then check AC 43.13-1 to assist you in inspecting and recognizing certain faults and the acceptable methods to use to ensure you keep your your labour of love safe. Keep in mind too that any conflict of what the AC says and the kit manufacturer - use what the kit manufacturer says to do because it is specific for that aircraft type. The AC is general data for all types of aircraft.

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