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Old 08-12-2022, 07:03 AM
rv8ch's Avatar
rv8ch rv8ch is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: LSGY
Posts: 4,899
Default Post-Repair Flights: Recognize the Risks

I found this to be a good article.

Focus is of course not on builders, but we probably have more owners than builders in the RV world today, so these tips would be relevant.

• Arrange to pick up the airplane anytime other than a Friday afternoon—and with enough time left so that you can get it back into the shop if you discover any sort of a problem on the test flight.

• Be by yourself under conditions where you will not be interrupted.

• Talk over the work done on the airplane and any things that are being deferred.

• Do a thorough preflight—the kind that you’d do on a checkride with the examiner watching (or after you see people leaning all over your airplane on the ramp at a fly-in breakfast). Don’t limit it to the stuff on the airplane checklist—check everything, especially anything that was the subject of the work or that had to be moved, removed or disconnected to do the work.

• If you get interrupted, start the preflight over.

• Check the stuff that you probably won’t need for the flight such as the pitot heat and external lighting. You’re at the shop. Now is the time to find out if something isn’t working and get it fixed.

• Throughout the time you are talking with the technician, preflighting or doing the test flight, recognize that any distraction or feeling that you are being hurried is a red flag. Slow down.

• Inside the cabin: Start with a smell check. Former airshow pilot and current A&P, AI and proprietor of Northern Air on the Boundary County Idaho Airport, Dave Parker, told me about getting a whiff of fuel after maintenance. He stopped everything and found that a fuel line had been disconnected as part of the work. It had not been properly reconnected and was leaking.

• Also inside the cabin before strapping in: Parker suggested making sure that all of the seatbelts are fastened—he has seen them jammed into seat stops and buckles laying right where a pilot’s hand may need to go in normal operations, such as beneath the manual gear retraction lever in older Mooneys.

• Control check. Make sure the controls—and trim tabs—move freely and in the correct direction. Dave Parker counseled us when doing a control check, to start by boxing the yoke or stick to get all the way into the corners of full travel and then take some time to move the controls through intermediate areas of travel.
Mickey Coggins
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Old 08-12-2022, 05:14 PM
coffeeguy coffeeguy is offline
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Lake in the Hills, IL
Posts: 249

Those are some great points. We as pilots try to mitigate risks as much as possible and it's always nice to have more data points to ponder.

I've spent my whole career in IT and most customers will do maintenance or repair at Friday or Saturday at Midnight or maybe 10 or 11pm. One or two others truly had it right when they started at 6 or 7 on a Saturday morning. The reasoning was that if they were to run into problems then everyone would be fresh and have a clear head to debug and work thru the problem. Local support would also be available vs speaking with someone halfway around the world via the follow the sun model. Yes, they speak english and are equally good, but sometimes communication problems do happen, so it's usually better to work with someone closer to home.

Great post.
Jeff Dingbaum
Cherokee 180
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Old 08-13-2022, 06:55 PM
Canadian_JOY Canadian_JOY is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,580

These are excellent points.

To these points I would add these personal items from lessons learned over the years.

1) Never pick an airplane up from maintenance when the shop is closed - you will feel too much pressure to accept something that's not quite right.

2) Never launch on the post-maintenance flight into impending darkness or less-than-good-VFR weather.

3) Always plan to do an "acceptance" flight, land, refuel, check over the exterior of the aircraft and gather your thoughts before considering blasting off cross-country in an airplane just out of maintenance

4) There is very little more sobering than discovering a primary flight control has been hooked up backwards. Sit in the airplane with your eyes closed. Move the stick fully to the left, then think about which way the ailerons should be deflected to produce a roll to the left. Only when you have a clear mental picture should you open your eyes and check the deflections of BOTH ailerons to ensure they agree with expected behavior, then move the stick all the way to the right and watch to ensure both ailerons smoothly move through their travel to the opposite (and expected) deflections to produce a roll to the right. Do the same with the elevator and rudder. Really take your time on this one. We as regular pilots are extremely poorly equipped to deal with backwards controls - failure to detect mis-rigged controls on the ground will likely involve writing the airplane off, at a minimum, and all too often it ends in a fatality.

5) Run the radios through a frequency tuning check - just because they are on the right frequency for the airport of the maintenance facility doesn't mean the knobs still work so you can make the frequency change for the next station down your route.

6) Empty your bladder. Always empty your bladder before a post-maintenance flight. If something goes amiss in the air it might be awhile before you get back on the ground!
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Old 08-14-2022, 12:24 AM
PCHunt PCHunt is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,849

WRT #6 above, I do that for EVERY flight, at my age!
Pete Hunt, [San Diego] VAF #1069
RV-6, T-6G

2022 Donation+, Gladly Sent
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Old 08-14-2022, 03:31 AM
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rv8ch rv8ch is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: LSGY
Posts: 4,899

Originally Posted by PCHunt View Post
WRT #6 above, I do that for EVERY flight, at my age!
Same here, and I carry some "travel john" bags - nothing can trigger get-home-itis like needing a bio-break.
Mickey Coggins
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