With the increasing complexity of aerospace technology, it is a tedious job to ensure all systems and flight components are safe and ready for flight, so preflight preparation requires great attention to detail. As overlooking just one detail could have detrimental effects to the flight, there are a number of steps for the pilot and crew to go through prior to takeoff. While these procedures take place outside and inside the aircraft, this blog will focus on the internal and external aspects of preflight.
Preflight preparations begin with the pilot looking over the Flight Release, that of which is a document outlining a master plan for, or overview of, the entire flight. Also referred to as the Dispatch Release or The Release, this document contains vital information on the route, weather, fuel requirements, maintenance/equipment, and any other information pertinent to the flight. Using The Release, the pilot must determine if the flight will be carried out and sign two copies of the form with his approval. One is left at the gate and one is used by the crew in flight.
One major aspect of the Flight Release is the flight plan section. This portion of the document provides information on possible alternate airports for landing, the proposed route, flight altitude, weather reports, temporary restrictions, and more. Using this information, the crew may determine relative information, such as the estimated duration of their flight and any adverse conditions that could get in the way. Another important section of the Release is the fuel section which lets the crew know how much fuel they require for takeoff. This section also accounts for additional fuel that might be needed for alternative routes or landings.
Certain equipment in flight may not be used or may be restricted, so a pilot must account for all inoperative or limited use parts by referencing a Minimal Equipment List (MEL). This Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved list specifies items that may be inoperative under certain conditions. Any inoperative equipment is included in the Release.
Meanwhile, an external walkaround ensures the tires, landing gear, engines, lights, and airframe are airworthy. This includes examining tires for tread, wear, and inflation, alongside checking that all fasteners and other vital parts are in place. Further external examinations include signs of leakage, scorching, or other damages to the engines, in addition to the proper illumination of all lights. All in all, any noticeable damage to any outside party of the aircraft is reported prior to any flight, as a plane cannot land midflight to check such occurrences.
After the Flight Release, the pilot will read through the Aircraft Log to ensure all required inspections are up-to-date. If any maintenance is required, it will be handled by a maintenance department at this time. After the Aircraft Log, the pilot will sign off on the Flight Log, which has a record of all prior flight legs, crew members, and engine cycles. Following these documents, the pilot will conduct a panel scan. During this procedure, the pilot will flip switches, press buttons, and pull levers across the control panel to ensure the proper functioning of the related systems. For the first flight of the day, this procedure is very in depth, while the panel scan may be abbreviated to essentials for later flights on the same day. The crew will then obtain the latest weather report to supplement the Flight Release before contacting air traffic control (ATC) for clearance. Clearance includes the initial altitude for flight, the route to fly, the radio frequency to use after takeoff, and other important information.
The last part of flight preparation this blog will cover is the roles of the flight crew. In addition to the pilot, there are many people who play a role in preflight safety. For example, flight attendants are responsible for passenger safety, conducting a thorough safety briefing, confirming that all passengers are wearing safety belts, making sure carryon luggage is properly stowed, and attending to special needs passengers. Meanwhile, gate agents ensure only authorized passengers enter the plane. Baggage handlers work to maintain proper weight and storage standards on any given aircraft, and the ground crew handles fueling.
With a number of factors and roles to handle prior to any given flight, there are many parts and systems that may need repair at any time. For the safety of your crew and passengers, be sure to only source all replacement and new parts from a trusted distributor like Aerospace Domain. With around-the-clock service, contact us at any time to begin procuring the high-caliber aviation parts you need!
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