Preventive maintenance is regarded as simple or minor preservation operations and the replacement of small standard parts, not involving complex assembly operations. Allowed items of preventative maintenance are listed and limited to the items of 14 CFR part 43, appendix A(c).
All pilots who perform preventive maintenance must make an entry in the maintenance record of the aircraft. The entry must include the following information:
- A description of the work, such as “changed oil (Shell Aero-50) at 2,345 hours”
- The date of completion of the work performed
- The pilot’s name, signature, certificate number, and type of certificate held
Examples of Preventive Maintenance
The following examples of preventive maintenance are taken from 14 CFR, part 43, Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Rebuilding, and Alternation, which should be consulted for a more in-depth look at the preventive maintenance a pilot can perform on an aircraft. Remember, preventive maintenance is limited to work that does not involve complex assembly operations including the following:
- Removal, installation, and repair of landing gear tires and shock cords; servicing landing gear shock struts by adding oil, air, or both; servicing gear wheel bearings; replacing defective safety wiring or cotter keys; lubrication not requiring disassembly other than removal of nonstructural items, such as cover plates, cowlings, and fairings; making simple fabric patches not requiring rib stitching or the removal of structural parts or control surfaces. In the case of balloons, the making of small fabric repairs to envelopes (as defined in, and in accordance with, the balloon manufacturer’s instructions) not requiring load tape repair or replacement.
- Replenishing hydraulic fluid in the hydraulic reservoir; refinishing decorative coating of fuselage, balloon baskets, wings, tail group surfaces (excluding balanced control surfaces), fairings, cowlings, landing gear, cabin, or flight deck interior 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 cabin, flight deck, or balloon basket interior when the repair does not require disassembly of any primary structure or operating system or interfere with an operating system or affect the primary structure of the aircraft; making small, simple repairs to fairings, nonstructural cover plates, cowlings, and small patches and reinforcements not changing the contour to interfere with proper air flow; replacing side windows where that work does not interfere with the structure or any operating system, such as controls, electrical equipment, etc.
- Replacing safety belts, seats or seat parts with replacement parts approved for the aircraft, not involving disassembly of any primary structure or operating system, bulbs, reflectors, and lenses of position and landing lights.
- Replacing wheels and skis where no weight-and-balance computation is involved; replacing any cowling not requiring removal of the propeller or disconnection of flight controls; replacing or cleaning spark plugs and setting of spark plug gap clearance; replacing any hose connection, except hydraulic connections; however, prefabricated fuel lines may be replaced.
- Cleaning or replacing fuel and oil strainers or filter elements; servicing batteries, cleaning balloon burner pilot and main nozzles in accordance with the balloon manufacturer’s instructions.
- The interchange of balloon baskets and burners on envelopes when the basket or burner is designated as interchangeable in the balloon type certificate data and the baskets and burners are specifically designed for quick removal and installation; adjustment of nonstructural standard fasteners incidental to operations.
- The installations of anti-misfueling devices to reduce the diameter of fuel tank filler openings only if the specific device has been made a part of the aircraft type certificate data by the aircraft manufacturer, the aircraft manufacturer has provided FAA-approved instructions for installation of the specific device, and installation does not involve the disassembly of the existing tank filler opening; troubleshooting and repairing broken circuits in landing light wiring circuits.
- Removing and replacing self-contained, front instrument panel-mounted navigation and communication devices that employ tray-mounted connectors which connect the unit when the unit is installed into the instrument panel (excluding automatic flight control systems, transponders, and microwave frequency distance measuring equipment (DME)). The approved unit must be designed to be readily and repeatedly removed and replaced, and pertinent instructions must be provided. Prior to the unit’s intended use, an operational check must be performed in accordance with the applicable sections of 14 CFR part 91 on checking, removing, and replacing magnetic chip detectors.
- Inspection and maintenance tasks prescribed and specifically identified as preventive maintenance in a primary category aircraft type certificate or STC holder’s approved special inspection and preventive maintenance program when accomplished on a primary category aircraft.
- Updating self-contained, front instrument panel-mounted air traffic control (ATC) navigational software databases (excluding those of automatic flight control systems, transponders, and microwave frequency DME), only if no disassembly of the unit is required and pertinent instructions are provided; prior to the unit’s intended use, an operational check must be performed in accordance with applicable sections of 14 CFR part 91.
Certificated pilots, excluding student pilots, sport pilots, and recreational pilots, may perform preventive maintenance on any aircraft that is owned or operated by them provided that the aircraft is not used in air carrier service and does not qualify under 14 CFR parts 121, 129, or 135. A pilot holding a sport pilot certificate may perform preventive maintenance on an aircraft owned or operated by that pilot if that aircraft is issued a special airworthiness certificate in the LSA category. (Sport pilots operating LSA should refer to 14 CFR part 65 for maintenance privileges.) 14 CFR part 43, appendix A, contains a list of the operations that are considered to be preventive maintenance.
Repairs and Alterations
Repairs and alterations are classified as either major or minor. 14 CFR part 43, appendix A, describes the alterations and repairs considered major. Major repairs or alterations shall be approved for return to service on FAA Form 337, Major Repair and Alteration, by an appropriately rated certificated repair station, an FAA-certificated A&P mechanic holding an IA, or a representative of the Administrator. Minor repairs and minor alterations may be approved for return to service with a proper entry in the maintenance records by an FAA-certificated A&P mechanic or an appropriately certificated repair station.
For modifications of experimental aircraft, refer to the operating limitations issued to that aircraft. Modifications in accordance with FAA Order 8130.2, Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products, may require the notification of the issuing authority.
Special Flight Permits
A special flight permit is a Special Airworthiness Certificate authorizing operation of an aircraft that does not currently meet applicable airworthiness requirements but is safe for a specific flight. Before the permit is issued, an FAA inspector may personally inspect the aircraft or require it to be inspected by an FAA-certificated A&P mechanic or an appropriately certificated repair station to determine its safety for the intended flight. The inspection shall be recorded in the aircraft records.
The special flight permit is issued to allow the aircraft to be flown to a base where repairs, alterations, or maintenance can be performed; for delivering or exporting the aircraft; or for evacuating an aircraft from an area of impending danger. A special flight permit may be issued to allow the operation of an overweight aircraft for flight beyond its normal range over water or land areas where adequate landing facilities or fuel is not available.
If a special flight permit is needed, assistance and the necessary forms may be obtained from the local FSDO or Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR). [Figure 9-10]