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Rules to Live By

Safety Spotlight: Aircraft Systems

maintenance logs

Keep in Mind

Learning about and maintaining your engine, propeller, and pneumatic systems are critical to the safety of flight. Make sure to read the POH for your aircraft and keep up with all recommended maintenance for every system on your airplane.


  • Know the basics of engine operations—they will help you assess mechanical problems you may encounter in the air.
  • No carbureted engine is immune to carb ice, and many flights operate within the “danger zone” where carb ice is most likely to occur.
  • You will reduce the likelihood of engine problems if you keep your engine maintained.


  • When operating near the propeller, assume it is always about to start.
  • Avoid dragging the airplane around by the propeller or putting too much pressure on the spinner.
  • Regularly verify that the magnetos are grounding properly and that you don’t have a “hot” mag.
  • Propellers do in fact need regular maintenance—make sure you’re keeping your propeller in shape. Consider adding a check of the propeller during oil changes.
  • Carefully check your propeller for issues during every preflight.
  • Be alert to signs of propeller failure in all phases of flight.


  • Pneumatic systems fail. Expect it and be prepared.
  • You can lessen the likelihood of a failure by making sure the pneumatic system has been properly maintained.
  • Consider installing a backup system and a prominently placed annunciator.
  • Stay current on instrument scanning techniques and partial panel flying.