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Aircraft Maintenance: What to do during the COVID-19 crisisAircraft Maintenance: What to do during the COVID-19 crisis

The weather finally turned warm here in New England, and people have begun flocking to the local home stores to buy grass seed, flowers, mulch, and all sorts of landscaping supplies. It seems that even during a pandemic, homeowners are embracing the importance of maintaining, improving, and protecting their property. It’s important that you do the same for your aircraft.

Avionics shops are open and ready to perform pitot/static and altimeter checks to get you ready for summer flying. Photo courtesy of Jeff Simon.

Although some of the regulations governing airmen have been temporarily relaxed or extended, the regulations governing aircraft maintenance remain steadfastly in place. This is because it’s critically important that all aircraft, from the smallest LSA to the largest commercial transport aircraft, remain airworthy to safely perform their duties. The requirements for proper maintenance and inspection are even more important if your aircraft has been sitting dormant during the crisis. Aircraft begin to deteriorate from the moment that they are parked as the corrosion process starts on components that are no longer moving and receiving lubrication, seals begin to dry out, and the internal components of the engine lie dormant.

Fortunately, aircraft maintenance facilities are considered essential businesses and remain open during the crisis. If you find yourself grounded, or simply don’t have the mission or motivation to get airborne, consider this an ideal time to get your aircraft into the shop and ready for action as soon as the crisis passes. There’s no rule that scheduled inspections or maintenance have to wait until the last minute; you can perform an annual inspection at any time and restart your aircraft’s compliance calendar.

Consider the following maintenance and inspections that can interrupt your routine flying schedule:

  • Oil and filter changes.
  • Annual/100-hour inspections.
  • Pitot/static and altimeter checks.
  • Transponder checks.
  • Airworthiness directive inspections.
  • Overhaul/replacement of life-limited components.
  • Cleaning, polishing, and protecting the interior and exterior.

This is an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the maintenance curve and clear your summer flying calendar of maintenance downtime. In addition, if your aircraft is not yet ADS-B compliant, this is the perfect time to remedy that. Only weeks ago, most people faced long wait times to get quotes and appointments for avionics work. If you were one of these people, try calling again because times have changed, a least a little. And, not only could you get the work done sooner, but the cost may have decreased as well. Many avionics companies are offering rebates and discounts on their products right now, so it pays to take advantage of these deals while supporting the industry that supports us.

And that’s a very important consideration. The general aviation industry is a fragile one—from our local FBOs and maintenance facilities to the engine; avionics; and other manufacturers that invest millions of dollars in research, development, and certification in the hopes that we (the aircraft owners) will keep flying and buy those products. If you’re sitting on the fence about an upgrade for your aircraft, I would urge you to take the plunge. You’ll be investing in your future as well as the future of others. In the not-so-distant future, when this crisis is in our rearview mirror, you could be happily flying behind that new engine or navigating with the new avionics you always wanted, knowing that you got the job done efficiently and cost effectively during a low point in our industry. And, you just might save someone’s job in the process.

For my part, I have been working to help pilots get real-time answers on important topics such as disinfecting and maintaining their aircraft through our weekly SocialFlight Live! webcast. These programs include maintenance experts such as the legendary Mike Busch, who will be providing additional insight about proper aircraft operation and maintenance in an upcoming show. You can register online at socialflightlive.com and ask questions during the program. You can also view previous programs on SocialFlight’s YouTube channel.

One last note on the maintenance industry: If you visited an avionics or maintenance shop a year ago, you would have seen technicians working 20 feet apart (or more) on different aircraft, wearing rubber gloves and other protective gear required to safely work around the chemicals and other dangers inherent to aircraft maintenance. About the only areas I can think of that have significantly changed to accommodate safe social distancing are the break room and the front desk. We were built for this. And, with a little help from aircraft owners, our industry will emerge strong, healthy, and ready for another great decade of aviation support. I hope you and your families remain safe and healthy, and wish you blue skies.

Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is an A&P, IA, pilot, and aircraft owner. He has spent the last 17 years promoting owner-assisted aircraft maintenance and recently certified the FlexAlert Multifunction Cockpit Annunciator. Jeff is also the creator of SocialFlight, the free mobile app and website that maps over 20,000 aviation events, $100 Hamburgers, and educational aviation videos www.SocialFlight.com.
Topics: Maintenance
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