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: (1) Reports made by mechanics or by the pilot or crew flying an aircraft and (2) 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 which must eventually be spent in repairing an aircraft thus abused 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.