Preventive Maintenance

According to 14 CFR part 43, Appendix A, preventive maintenance may be performed by the owner/operator of an aircraft who holds at least an FAA Private Pilot Certificate with a balloon rating. You may only work on a balloon you own or fly.

The following is a list of preventive maintenance that may be performed by the owner/operator of a balloon.

• Replacing defective safety wiring or cotter keys.

• Lubrication not requiring disassembly.

• The making of small fabric repairs to envelopes (as defined in, and in accordance with, the balloon manufacturers' instructions) not requiring load tape repair or replacement.

• Refinishing decorative coating of the basket when removal or disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is not required.

• Applying preservative or protective material to components where no disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is involved and where such coating is not prohibited or is not contrary to good practices.

• Repairing upholstery and decorative furnishings of the balloon basket interior when the repairing does not require disassembly of any primary structure or operating system or interfere with an operating system or affect primary structure of the aircraft.

• Replacing seats or seat parts with replacement parts approved for the aircraft, not involving disassembly of any primary structure or operating system.

• Replacing prefabricated fuel lines.

• Replacing and servicing batteries.

• Cleaning of balloon burner pilots and main nozzles in accordance with balloon manufacturers' instructions.

• Replacement or adjustment of nonstructural standard fasteners incidental to operations.

• The interchange of balloon baskets and burners on envelopes when the basket or burner is designated as interchangeable in the balloon Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS), and the baskets and burners are specifically designed for quick removal and installation.

Any maintenance not specifically listed above must be performed by a certificated aircraft mechanic, repairman or certified repair station, or the manufacturer.

Other Considerations

The following are some considerations that are not usually included under maintenance, but which affect the condition of a balloon.

Storage The worst enemies of balloon fabric and baskets are moisture, heat, and light. Store your balloon covered in a dry, dark cool place, preferably on a pallet so air can circulate around it. If your balloon is stored in a dry climate for a long period of time, place a plastic bucket of water in the basket and enclose the basket with an opaque cover. The water will raise the humidity near the rattan and keep it flexible. In humid areas you should try to keep the balloon dry to avoid mildew. If you store your balloon in a covered trailer, the trailer should be light-colored, parked in the shade, and ventilated. (A closed, dark trailer sitting in the sun will become an oven, and the heat will degrade the envelope and dry out the basket.)

Handling The way a balloon is handled will affect its life. Simple things like lowering, not dropping, the balloon from its transport vehicle onto the launch site, and carrying, not dragging it across the ground, will prolong the life of the basket and envelope. Avoid walking on the fabric. The inspection can be done from the mouth and top openings or from a side vent, without walking on fabric. Even shoes may damage fabric coatings.

Volunteer crews may sometimes be necessary, and are often overenthusiastic. Explain to them very carefully your procedure for inflating and packing your balloon. Ask them politely not to step on the fabric, suspension cables, or rattan.

Transportation If you tie your balloon to a vehicle, or trailer, devise a system that does not crush the wickerwork or the basket edge. Cover the basket to protect it from dirt, ultraviolet, and weather.

Launch/Deflation Site Check for objects at your inflation/deflation site that may damage the fabric. Clear the site of rocks, glass, and sticks.

Inflation Fan A large, high-powered fan running at high speed will weaken the fabric in the mouth of a balloon over a period of time. Two-stroke fans, or poorly-maintained fans, will blow pollution into the envelope and shorten fabric life. Prior to using the fan, you should check condition of blades, motor mountings, and security of the blade cage or guard.

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