Pre-flight inspections aren’t any pilot’s favorite part of flying – especially young pilots anxious to get in the air. However, a pre-flight inspection can save your life – so that’s something to think about before you rush through it. Nobody dreams of becoming a pilot so they can sump fuel and check out exhaust manifolds. But if 20,000-hour airline pilots do it, we all should give it the attention it deserves. Every pilot’s checklist will vary slightly, but here are some general tips that will serve you well.
Sterile Cockpit Rule
Professional pilots have a “sterile cockpit rule,” where they agree to only talk about essential flight information when below 10,000 ft. No jokes while taxiing to the runway, only 100% focus on the task at hand. It’s good practice to do the same during your pre-flight where there are even more potential distractions. Getting distracting with your phone, or horseplay can cause you to forget to put the fuel cap back on or worse.
A Curious Attitude
When you do something so frequently a lot of people revert to autopilot and just go through the motions without paying attention. When you’re doing your inspection don’t just look at the parts of the plane; look and ask yourself what you’re supposed to be seeing. An active and curious mind during your inspection will ensure you don’t look directly at something that’s not right and miss it.
Know the Most Important Items
Pre-flight involves inspecting a lot of different components, but some are more important than others. Knowing which ones are critical and giving them special attention is a good habit. At some flight schools, flight instructors let students do the pre-flight but always double-check the oil, fuel, and tires.
If you’ve heard of the “IMSAFE” checklist you know what I’m talking about already. That’s a great start. Along with “IMSAFE” you want to get mentally into the zone. If you’re leaving a busy day at work or are having a tough family issue you need to leave that behind when you’re flying. Try mentally flying the flight before you start and fun through all the possible issues that could occur. Prepping your mind prepared before take-off is just as important as getting your airplane ready.
Know the Systems
Reading off a checklist and looking at parts is only half of a pre-flight. Understanding how the plane actually works makes it much easier to judge whether your plane is flight-ready. Use your pre-flight as a learning tool to better understand the airplane. If you read about a particular component, take a moment to look at it during pre-flight, and understand it’s role during flight.
Ready for Flight School?
CTI offers a variety of programs if you’re looking to get a private license or start a career in aviation. We have two campuses where you can get your training – one in Memphis, TN and another in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Book your campus tour (link) today and join the rewarding world of aviation.