Inspections are visual examinations and manual checks to determine the condition of an aircraft or component. An aircraft inspection can range from a casual walkaround to a detailed inspection involving complete disassembly and the use of complex inspection aids.

An inspection system consists of several processes, including reports made by mechanics or the pilot or crew flying an aircraft and regularly scheduled inspections of an aircraft. An inspection system is designed to maintain an aircraft in the best possible condition. Thorough and repeated inspections must be considered the backbone of a good maintenance program. Irregular and haphazard inspection will invariably result in gradual and certain deterioration of an aircraft. The time spent in repairing an abused aircraft often totals far more than any time saved in hurrying through routine inspections and maintenance.

It has been proven that regularly scheduled inspections and preventive maintenance assure airworthiness. Operating failures and malfunctions of equipment are appreciably reduced if excessive wear or minor defects are detected and corrected early. The importance of inspections and the proper use of records concerning these inspections cannot be overemphasized.

Airframe and engine inspections may range from preflight inspections to detailed inspections. The time intervals for the inspection periods vary with the models of aircraft involved and the types of operations being conducted. The airframe and engine manufacturer’s instructions should be consulted when establishing inspection intervals.

Aircraft may be inspected using flight hours as a basis for scheduling, or on a calendar inspection system. Under the calendar inspection system, the appropriate inspection is performed on the expiration of a specified number of calendar weeks. The calendar inspection system is an efficient system from a maintenance management standpoint. Scheduled replacement of components with stated hourly operating limitations is normally accomplished during the calendar inspection falling nearest the hourly limitation.

In some instances, a flight hour limitation is established to limit the number of hours that may be flown during the calendar interval.

Aircraft operating under the flight hour system are inspected when a specified number of flight hours are accumulated. Components with stated hourly operating limitations are normally replaced during the inspection that falls nearest the hourly limitation.

Basic Inspection Techniques/Practices

Before starting an inspection, be certain all plates, access doors, fairings, and cowling have been opened or removed and the structure cleaned. When opening inspection plates and cowling and before cleaning the area, take note of any oil or other evidence of fluid leakage.


In order to conduct a thorough inspection, a great deal of paperwork and/or reference information must be accessed and studied before actually proceeding to the aircraft to conduct the inspection. The aircraft logbooks must be reviewed to provide background information and a maintenance history of the particular aircraft. The appropriate checklist or checklists must be utilized to ensure that no items will be forgotten or overlooked during the inspection. Also, many additional publications must be available, either in hard copy or in electronic format to assist in the inspections. These additional publications may include information provided by the aircraft and engine manufacturers, appliance manufacturers, parts venders, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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