Taking Your Time With Preflight

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by easik, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I recently made a video on the importance of using a checklist especially during preflight. Simple mistakes or forgetting little things can get you in trouble as a student pilot. I honestly believe that your preflight is the most important phase of your flight and you should take your time with it rather than rush through it. What are your thoughts?

     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  2. jordane93

    jordane93 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Definitely take your time. Your job is to find something wrong with the plane. If you don’t, that’s a bonus and you get to fly.
     
  3. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    I have to admit on my Cherokee I don't hold the checklist, but rather do a flow and then verify at the end of the preflight with the checklist. I don't let anyone interrupt me during the flow, and if I do get interrupted by something I will often double back and restart. If it is a plane other than my Cherokee I have always gone directly by the checklist.
     
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  4. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Preflight? check level in coffee cup prior to boarding...
     
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  5. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yup. A majority of accidents are pilot error. A big portion of those happen before the plane takes off and most of those happen before the engine is started.
     
  6. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Cleared for Takeoff

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    I do the same thing. I have my checklist on my iPad in "Checklist Lite". It is not very practical to haul the iPad around the outside of the airplane while sumping fuel, checking oil, brake fluid and etc. My iPad in on a yoke mount so when I finish the outside walkaround and I get in to start the plane, I review the checklist up to that point to ensure that I did not miss anything, then continue following the checklist for the remainder of the engine startup and run up.

    I do agree that using a checklist is very important. It is also very important that if you modify your airplane in any way that affects your checklist that you update your checklist before the next flight. I have a friend that at the time was flying a Long-EZE. He had modified the fuel tank venting and added plugs in the vents to keep the vents clean. He didn't modify his checklist and the next time he flew the plane forgot to remove the vent plugs since it was a new addition that was not in his normal flow to remember. After he got up out of the pattern his engine started cutting out because of the vacuum being drawn in the tank. He immediately knew what the problem was and swapped to his backup tank in hopes he could get back to the airport. Unfortunately the same problem occurred with it. He attempted to make a forced landing on a portion of interstate that was under construction but caught his landing gear on a phone or power line that had been run across the road. It flipped his plane and it landed upside down totalling the airplane and injuring him. He recovered from his injuries and purchased another plane.

    Another thing that I have done is create a "Restart" checklist for when I make multiple flights in the same day. I don't see the need to perform a full preflight every time I shutdown the airplane to stop for fuel or lunch. It is a bit more abbreviated from the full checklist but assures I don't forget something important when resuming my flight.
     
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  7. CC268

    CC268 Final Approach

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    Agreed. Kick the tires light be fires. Preflighting is for student pilots only. :)
     
  8. HAPPYDAN

    HAPPYDAN Pre-Flight

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    You ain't kiddin'! It's amazing how many incident reports (anecdotal, just listen to the "old guys") include attempted take-offs with flat tires, low fuel, pitot cover not removed, birds nest in the cowling, plugged fuel vents, etc. Probably one of the worst and most needless accidents I ever heard of, was the crash of a C-130 in Afghanistan. Apparently, night vision goggles had been left behind the control yoke, and jammed the controls in an elevator-high configuration, resulting in a low altitude stall and crash. And don't trust the mechanics either. I once read a story written by a very experienced pilot, who picked up his plane from the shop, took off and suddenly discovered the ailerons had been hooked up backwards! Do a thorough pre-flight, and don't let anyone rush you.
     
  9. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I have to admit, I don't use a checklist on my aircraft, mostly because the factory checklists suck, and I haven't developed one for myself. I do use a checklist in flight. That said, I am utterly paranoid about fuel, and checklist or no, that's the first thing I check on the aircraft. My flow is a bit easier than most because my aircraft is hangared and no one flies it but me. That said, one must be ever vigilant. I always say before I begin, "how is this airplane going to try to kill me today".
     
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  10. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Several threads in the past, "what have you found on preflight" - good time to review them.
     
  11. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    I don't know if it is the same story, but I recently read one about a plane with crossed aileron controls, it crashes but the damage was repairable, the owner (it was not the owner that crashed it) picked it up after the repairs, and...yup, the controls were again cross connected but he managed to land it.

    As a student, I was amazed, one of the first things I learned was pointer finger on the yoke side going up, points to the up aileron. I know why and don't need the tip, but it is an easy one, point to the up aileron and check it is up.
     
  12. mryan75

    mryan75 Cleared for Takeoff

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    If you do one thing during your preflight, just one... check the fuel. This is nobody's fault other than the dead student.
     
  13. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    After maintenance of any kind preflight is extra slow and very very careful. First flight loiters around the airport for awhile, steep turns looking back to make certain I'm not trailing smoke or anything. Most I ever found was a shop light wedged under the starboard rudder pedal on the passenger side. Needed to make a right turn onto the runway and couldn't do it. That shop light festoons my garage to this day. Its a really nice one, too.
     
  14. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Take as much or as little time as you need to do it adequately and cover the bases.

    Like others, I don't use a checklist for preflight except as a backup after completing the flow walk-around. Other than being aught that, I found an interesting reason. Not everything is on the preflight checklist and yo can miss things if you follow it instead of walking around the airplane, examining everything you can touch or move. I think I had been flying 172s for a few years before I ever noticed there were balance weights attached to the ailerons. A missing one would not be a good thing, but checking them is not an item on the manufacturer's preflight checklist.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  15. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    This covers it. Especially in the stuff most of us fly that’s pushing or past as old as most of us are. Treat these things like classic cars and preflight well. Stuff breaks that nobody expected to break or last 40 years.
     
  16. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lol Pilot fatigue should also be on the checklist.
     
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  17. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I do nap better if I’m fatigued. Have to wake up and switch fuel tanks which is a bother...
     
  18. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I have read the riot act to more than one pilot regarding the IMSAFE checklist. I'll bet more guys have perished from ignoring that then from missing something on the aircraft's preflight.
     
  19. Sundancer

    Sundancer En-Route

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    I leave it on the seat during the exterior walk around - it's a checklist, not a do-list. I like looking at the airplane, vice a sheet of paper or my iPad, and having my hands free. Back at the seat I check to confirm I did it all. I use it in the cockpit for starting and run up, but not at all in flight or landing. Not very much to tend to in a 172 that requires a checklist in cruise, descent, and landing.
     
  20. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I only fly the one plane- the Cherokee Archer that I own and have been flying for several years now. My checklist is the airplane it's self. I walk around it deliberately looking and I'm going to see every item I need to look at as I come to the physical part of the aircraft.

    So far I've never actually found a problem on my sequential pre-flight yet I perform the ritual on the first flight of the day every time anyway. That said, I've actually found problems on two occasions and both of these things were issues I saw immediately upon opening the hangar door without having to do any orderly walk around.- one was a leaking fuel drain which had left very obvious blue stains on the wheel pants and floor below. The other was some odd damage to the wingtip which looked all the world as if something heavy had been dropped onto it but I was told was simply stress cracking.
     
  21. Cooter

    Cooter Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The C-130 crash wasn’t because of a missed preflight item. The pilot put the case there because of the type of off/on-load they were doing. There isn’t a way to lock the stabs up out of the way so crews had gotten accustomed to using their NVG case to position the stabs rather than just holding it for however long was needed. In this case the checklist kind of let them down because it didn’t address that problem.
    They actually ran the appropriate checklists but since the stab positioning and a flight control check wasn’t covered, the NVG case got overlooked. That’s the way I remember hearing the story at least.
     
  22. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Same here.
     
  23. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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  24. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    I wonder if there's a difference between having your own plane vs renting.

    I (for now) am just renting, and I'm always dubious how the prior person left the plane. Often I find the carb heat still on, one tie down missing, etc. and so I do a very thorough walk around and preflight just because I don't know what kind of abuse the prior person put the plane through and I'd rather find some issue on the ground then 100' in the air

    I can imagine that if you have your own plane, and it just sits inside your own heated hangar then your 20 minute thorough preflight may be amended to a 2-5 minute preflight.

    How many people postflight? I don't do a major one, but definitely do a quick walk around just to make sure I left it in ship shape for the next person
     
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  25. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I do post flight checks as well as a post flight mag check before shut down. It can shorten the pre-flight for the next morning. I usually do not check the oil in the post flight, hot engine being the main reason....
     
  26. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Not per se, but my instructor taught me to always turn back and look at the plane carefully when you're about 20ft away. Any lights on? Any fluids leaking? Smoke? Properly tied down, etc.?

    He said always give it a look.
     
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  27. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer En-Route

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    I did the same...after doing a landing/taxi back/takeoff where I left the elevator trim in the landing configuration. It gets your attention when you have to give it a ton of forward stick right after rotation! :eek:

    I'm a big fan of laminated checklists too. I always keep my thumb sliding down the list, so if I get interrupted by a passenger or something, I know exactly where to resume and nothing gets missed. Simple but effective.

    On the whole switching tanks thing, it's so great to have an EFIS with an interval alarm. I set it up to get a prompt every half hour to move the selector, if I haven't done it already.
     
  28. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Restart check makes sense

    Laminated checklists are great, I agree on that front. Other than the one on the G1000 and Avidyne I haven't found an electronic checklist I like, the one in Foreflight is clunky to me. Having a laminated sheet tucked under your leg or in the pocket is great
     
  29. falconkidding

    falconkidding Line Up and Wait

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    I check oil gas and walk around. Checklist are fine but you also shouldnt need a checklist to tell you to check controls or remove tiedowns. Perhaps im too casual but i think at somepoint for your average vfr flight you just gotta be a pilot and do pilot things.

    Checklist for me is for things that will kill you if missed and on a 172 thats fuel oil and normal parameters on runup. Checklist comes out for runup then goes away.
    If i flew something with more systems then id use a checklist for that.
    Doing imsafe and risk assessment and 5p 3p DECIDE and worshiping some laminated paper isnt always needed. Be the PIC make big boy decisions have airplane appropriate flows and adequate checklist for the equipment( GUMPS or a variant covers 90% of the ga fleet)
     
  30. LongRoadBob

    LongRoadBob Cleared for Takeoff

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    I like the people, checklist or not (I'm guessing long time pilots, experienced, their own plane, know what to look for) treat it as a serious process, and get in a certain frame of mind when starting until it is finished.
    I need a checklist and as someone above wrote, my planes are all rentals so it is important for me.

    My instructor also told me, day one "it starts as you approach the plane. Look at how it's sitting, is it even? Anything look wrong? Also as you approach even before you get out the checklist and begin that process kee looking at it"
     
  31. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Both! As we (me & SP) approach I teach to look her over, anything look abnormal, low tire, fluid leak, etc. Same for post flight, just look back as Bill mentioned for those items.
     
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  32. NHWannabe

    NHWannabe Line Up and Wait

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    After I do my preflight I do one more walk around the plane and go through the items one more time in my head as a double check.
     
  33. Skywalker

    Skywalker Cleared for Takeoff

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    When we were still renting, every single preflight was very thorough. You never knew what the previous pilot / renter did to the plane and we didn’t want to have any surprises during the flight or be the one’s blamed for any damage we didn’t do to he plane. Also, we tried to make ourselves familiar with the systems which could take some time.

    With our own plane, sitting in it’s own hangar we always do a preflight - however, it is less intense. We always check fuel quality and quantity even after a short stop somewhere, hinges at aileron and flaps, prop blades. We take the pre take off-list very seriously though and there is no take off without checking controls free and correct, the checklist is done step by step.

    We clean the plane after every flight which gives us the opportunity to have a close look at the plane before we leave her for the day.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
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