April 7, 2009
By Dave Hirschman
Engine compartments, wheel wells, and tail cones may seem inhospitable, but to birds, mice, and insects, such areas look like perfect places to raise families.
And this is the time of year that critters nest with gusto.
A busy bird can set up a bachelor pad in an engine compartment in one day. And pilots won’t be able to spot the out-of-the-way nests with a peek through the oil door. It’s necessary to remove the cowling for a full inspection, as these photos show.
A set of cowl plugs can discourage birds from entering through the front of the engine compartment. But cowl plugs aren’t enough. Some enterprising birds are willing to fly in through the basement, the low-pressure opening around the exhaust stacks. And hangars are no guarantee that an airplane won’t become an apartment house for birds.
Mice are also on the move this time of year, and though they’re usually slower than birds at setting up residences in airframes, they can do tremendous damage to wiring and metal structures. Rodents regard insulation as a delicacy, and after they’ve been fed, their urine is horribly corrosive to metal aircraft structures.
Bees and wasps love aircraft interiors. And even if they’ve been evicted, insects have an annoying habit of plugging pitot tubes with mud.
Don’t take any of these stowaways on your first flight of spring. Find out about some post-winter inspection tips in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Spring Preflight Safety Hot Spot.
Weather and Seasons,
Pilot Safety and Skills,
Aircraft Components and Gear
NetJets has added a new safety feature to its long-range fleet: a doctor who is always in.
Your mission: Fly with eight F-15s to the Philippines, rejoin, refuel with air tankers, engage an unknown number of Red Air fighters, refuel again, and then return home to Okinawa. And fly with radio silence up to the first contact with the Red Air fighters.
The Aviation Safety Reporting System is a voluntary safety reporting program that allows airmen to make anonymous reports to the government about issues encountered in aviation, with anonymity allowing the airman to be candid–even when their actions may have been a violation of the regulations.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.