No matter how often you fly or for whatever reason, you put a lot of thought into every trip you take. You research the best flight for your schedule and budget. You take care to gather all the necessary documentation before you leave for the airport. You make sure to pack the clothes, personal items and devices you’ll need for your business appointment or getaway. But for all the preparations you make before boarding, there’s so much more that you trust others to do. You count on aviation professionals to perform all the work necessary to ensure a safe flight. We take these procedures for granted, but they’re an integral part of how air travel functions.
Nervous flyers no doubt have spent at least a little bit of time watching the airline’s preflight routines and anxiously looking for signs of potential problems. Even if you’re calm and collected every time you fly, you may be curious to know all the elements that go into these inspections and just how detailed they are. Whether you’re fearful of flying or not, it can be reassuring to know exactly what goes into the preflight regimen and what crews look for each time they fly.
For example, some of the most important features of the plane’s exterior are examined before it taxis down the runway. These include the engines, fuselage and landing gear. Most of the time, these checks are performed by inspectors who walk around the aircraft, searching for any warning signs or suggestions of trouble. They will look for missing bolts, dents, exposed cables, worn tire treads and other indicators. The wings and tail section also receive a close examination to ensure they will function as required once in the air. Planes are also equipped with dozens of sensors that measure everything from air pressure to temperature. If a thermocouple identifies an irregularity with the temperature, for example, it will warn the pilot and the plane will be landed safely. Engineers go through years of training, so they’re aware of what to know about thermocouple types that keep aircraft safe. Any suggestion that something may be amiss means the plane must be removed from service immediately and repaired.
Inside the cockpit, the pilot and copilot have their own checklist to run down before they can take to the air. For example, they must ensure that all the lights in the cabin are functional. They must check the fuel tanks and make sure all the internal doors open and close properly. In addition, every switch on the control panel must be in its proper position to prevent mistakes during the trip.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a nervous novice, it’s always a good thing when you can sit back and just savor the flight. Being aware of all the careful prep work that goes into maintaining the plane’s equipment in good working condition can help you relax and enjoy. That’s why the next time you prepare for a flight, you should take a moment to appreciate all the efforts that go on behind the scenes to keep your aircraft running smoothly and safely. If you’re curious about what goes into the typical preflight inspection routine, take a look at the accompanying infographic. It contains a detailed rundown of the most critical elements of the procedure and what makes them so important.
Author bio: Allen Jones is Chief Operating Officer of National Aero Stands, a world leader in engine stand leasing – founded with the purpose of providing aircraft engine transportation stand support. Jones, who has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, currently oversees daily business and leasing operations.