How To Perform A Visual Pre-Flight Check On An Airplane (VI)

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Pablo Edronkin

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Check that this tube, used to gather air pressure required for some instruments, is clean and that there are no obstructions in it. If there is something lie a small insect or dirt, Don't blow with your mouth or you will damage some pretty expensive devices inside the plane; instead, clean it with a brush, and if you can't leave it unobstructed, call a mechanic or use tweezers to leave it perfectly clean.

After checking the pitot tube you should go and see the board landing gear, the bolts and the wheel. The last remaining thing for you here will be the fuel tank, which in most PA-11s is located inside the left wing. The easiest way to look at your fuel reserves (don't trust only in the hydraulic fuel indicator located inside the cockpit) will be to use the left wheel as a step. Since the wings are at two metres high, most people stepping on the wheels will be able to reach the top of them, and in such a fashion you will gain access to the tank's lid.


Fuel tank lid on the extrados of the board side wing; the venturi, as seen here, should always point forwards.
Fuel tank lid on the extrados of the board side wing; the venturi, as seen here, should always point forwards.

Unscrew it and put inside the tank the measuring device that comes with the airplane; so you will find out whether the fuel indicator is working fine, and what are your reserves. Then make sure to close the lid well, step down and drain some fuel using the drainage valve located on the wing's underside. Take out and discard about 100 cc. of fuel from the tank. This will finish the check of the wing and the engine will be your next stop.


Main fuel fiter; in this particular case, it has been left open for a full drainage and cleanup of the fuel system.
Main fuel fiter; in this particular case, it has been left open for a full drainage and cleanup of the fuel system.

Start by draining the main fuel filter, located on the underside of the engine cowl. The open the board side cowl hatch and take a look inside: Four cables in good shape should be attached to the two cylinders on that side. Check that there are no leakages of any kind inside the cowl and grab one of the struts of the engine mount.


Board side of engine cowl, upper cables from magnetos to sparkplugs.
Board side of engine cowl, upper cables from magnetos to sparkplugs.

Shake the propeller as you did with the wingtips, expecting the same kind of results. If you feel anything loose, fix it before flying, and this may well imply the visit of a qualified mechanic.


Board side, lower sparkplugs and their cables.
Board side, lower sparkplugs and their cables.

Close the board hatch and proceed to review the carburettor air intake filter - which should be clean and unobstructed - and the propeller. Take a good look at it: Any scratches, anything abnormal should be seriously pondered before even turning the engine on. If the propeller falls apart due to material fatigue or any other sort of damage, the least that you will suffer is serious damage to the engine and the plane's structure due to acute vibration, and that's for starters!



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