If you wish to contribute or participate in the discussions about articles you are invited to join SKYbrary as a registered user
Flight Crew Pre Flight External Check
From SKYbrary Wiki
A Fight Crew Pre Flight External Check is part of the basis for the Captain's Aircraft Acceptance which must be formally recorded in the Aircraft Technical Log prior to every flight departure. It is primarily, therefore, a general visual inspection of those aspects of fitness of the aircraft for flight which can be verified wholly or partly in that way. Incidentally it also provides an opportunity to observe the environment in which the aircraft is parked and may sometimes allow the observation of aspects of aircraft hold loading and routine aircraft servicing. It is entirely unrelated to the separate requirements for appropriately qualified aircraft maintenance technicians to carry out scheduled checks and inspections necessary for the Certificate of Release to Service to be signed and, in some cases, to remain valid for the specified duration.
Allocation of Duty
It is the pilot designated as aircraft commander for the forthcoming flight who must determine who carries out the duty. It is quite common for aircraft commanders to decide to carry out the external inspection prior to the first flight of a particular flight crew duty period themselves. It does not matter which pilot has been assigned PF duties for the departure and, provided that the person delegated to carry out the check is on duty, under the command of the designated aircraft commander, and aircraft type qualified, they do not need to be a member of the operating crew; they could be ‘heavy crew’ on long haul flights or present because of pilot line training activity.
Timing and Co-ordination
An external check should normally be conducted only after the Aircraft Technical Log is available at the aircraft and has been properly examined by the aircraft commander. Since some of the flight crew pre flight internal checks will also be conducted before every flight, it follows that the timing of conduct of the two checks should be co-ordinated to maximise the benefit of the external check and minimise the likelihood of interference to it by system checks which may be part of the internal check. This is especially relevant prior to the first flight of the day or before any flight which is the first for that flight crew on that particular aircraft that day, if the aircraft is boarded without an informal on-board handover from a previous flight crew.
It may be necessary to delay the check until completion of a hold loading check, or refuelling, or on-stand servicing activities.
Personal Safety Risk
Anybody conducting an aircraft external check is at risk from a collision with an airside vehicle. The wearing of a high visibility tabard or jacket is therefore recommended. Ambient noise levels of airport aprons can be high; the use of ear defenders should be considered against the reduction in situational awareness which their use involves. Any external check will normally be conducted from ground level; any intended exception to this should be carefully assessed against the risk of falling from height and sustaining injury.
Content and Conduct
The prescribed content of the external check will be detailed in the Aircraft Operator’s Operations Manual in the form of an expanded check list, and the remarks which follow are generic in nature, highly selective and in no particular order of significance.
Obviously, external checks which are carried out during the hours of darkness require that a torch of effective brightness be carried and used; apron lighting alone is not sufficient.
- Checking tyre inflation visually, especially on multi wheel axles, is difficult if not impossible
- Whilst checking of overall tyre wear is effective, damage or localised wear can be concealed by ground contact or by restricted visibility of inner tyre walls on multi wheel assemblies.
- Dependent upon the level of confidence in ground service provision, it may be advisable to check that access points are correctly set following the uplift of fluids and toilet servicing.
- Aircraft which are returning to service following maintenance should be checked with particular care.
- During turn round external checks after longer flights mainly above the freezing level, a specific check for the possible presence of clear ice on the underside of wing surfaces is appropriate even if the ambient ground temperature is above freezing.
- Whilst the fitting of covers, flight control locks and landing gear pins should have been recorded in the Aircraft Technical Log, these items should be checked in case an unrecorded action has taken place.
- If propeller restraints are left fitted after a pre flight external inspection, there should be a formal procedure in place to ensure that are removed before any attempt is made to start engines.