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The Importance of Private Aircraft Maintenance

The Importance of Private Aircraft Maintenance - The Early Air Way

When you step onto an aircraft, you assume it is in excellent working order and that you should have no issue getting to your destination. Passengers place a lot of trust, faith, and confidence in an aircraft maintenance technician they have never met. Why? Likely because the aircraft can get you where you want to go quickly – its history of high safety standards has proven effective. Let’s look at the importance of routine aircraft maintenance for private jets.

Understanding Airworthiness

For an aircraft to function correctly, it has to be in well-functioning order. It should work as the manufacturer intended and have all routine repairs and maintenance taken care of on schedule. FAA regulations and compliance standards must be met for a jet to be considered flight worthy. When a private jet charter is airworthy, the risks and dangers of flying are significantly reduced.

What’s Included in Routine Aircraft Maintenance?

When you think of routine aircraft maintenance, it may be easy to assume it is equivalent to changing your car’s oil every 3,000 miles. Changing the oil may work for most vehicles, but jets require a lot more. By routine, it is a regular practice, like before and after a fight, at certain fight hours, and so forth. All maintenance is thoroughly logged to ensure records are kept, including the repair’s details.

Pre-Flight Routine Checks

The pilot is responsible for always doing a pre-flight checklist before doing anything else. They are to make sure that there are no defects and no malfunctions. And, believe it or not, this includes the aircraft’s inside and outside. Pilots look for anything that can impact the flight’s safety, such as defects, wear and tear that hasn’t been addressed, and anything else that could cause alarm. They check the cockpit, the cabin, the avionics, the battery, and so forth to ensure everything is in working order.

50-Hour and 100-Hour Inspections

Charter jets are required to have logs for every 100 hours the plane is in flight. It is recommended that a check be performed at 50 hours, too. This only makes sense since the oil in a jet needs to be changed every 50 hours. It is also a good idea to look over the jet’s engine and other working parts and clean the spark plugs. The FAA mandates 100-hour inspections under FAR 91.409b. At this time, all significant components of the jet are carefully inspected.  All areas of inspection, including (but not limited to) the:

  • Engine
  • Windows
  • Seatbelts
  • Flight controls
  • Fuselage
  • Cabin doors
  • Cargo doors
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Landing gear
  • Struts

The inspection plates, access doors, fairings, and cowlings are removed. Plus, the oil must be changed, and the spark plugs cleaned. Anything discovered during this inspection must be addressed appropriately and repaired/ replaced. Aircraft inspections allow technicians to address any areas of concern, no matter how big or small. And that means taking care of them before they get worse.

Annual Inspections

Another mandated review by the FAA, the aircraft needs to be thoroughly inspected annually regardless of their use. Details of the assessment are found in FAR 43 Appendix D. While this is quite similar to the 100-hour inspections, this annual inspection is a little more detailed.

Progressive Inspections

Sometimes jets have heavy bookings, and routine inspections can keep them grounded for quite some time. To keep things flowing smoothly, many partake in progressive assessments. These are performed in set intervals, say every 25 hours or so. Each component is inspected when it is time for the 100-hour inspection. The routine maintenance ensures that each jet is thoroughly monitored to make it is flight worthy.

Who Is Qualified to Perform Aircraft Maintenance?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in charge of those in this industry, including those who perform maintenance. Because the job is so important and lives are at stake, they must maintain the proper certification. Aviation maintenance technicians, or airplane mechanics, are formally trained. They must meet specific training milestones and pass an oral, practical, and written test to be certified by the FAA as Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) technicians. Obtaining the license requires proving ability through these exams.

Why Routine Aircraft Maintenance Is Important

Logically, we know that routine aircraft maintenance is essential because it keeps the jet working correctly and in its best shape. We also know that it keeps the flight crew and the passengers safe. But when it comes to routine aircraft maintenance, there are other reasons it is crucial. Caring for a jet will keep it looking and running like a charm. This will create greater longevity, minimize the incidence of flight cancellation, reduce the need for (and the cost of) significant repairs, and meet all flight safety regulations set forth by governing bodies.

Unexpected Maintenance

While most aircraft maintenance is regularly scheduled, jets sometimes require unexpected maintenance. Sometimes a component may not be working correctly or be in jeopardy of malfunctioning. The pilot may notice something during the pre-flight routine check. Anytime this happens, the aviation maintenance technicians are notified to fix the issue before the next flight.

Charter Jets and Routine Care

Charter jets are often used, shuttling passengers from one destination to another. Well-respected charter companies take pride in their private aircraft maintenance services, so they always know they are ready to take flight when a booking happens. And that means that getting routine care is vital to their health – and for the safety of everyone involved.

Working with some of the most experienced aviation maintenance technicians brings confidence that the job is done well and that all replaced parts have been inspected for defects before use. When you book your private jet charter with the right company, you can count on a jet that has been properly maintained and meets some rigorous safety standards.

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The Process of Private Jet Maintenance

Private jet maintenance, inspections, and overhauls come due at varying times. Learn what goes into the upkeep of a private jet.

There is a lot of joy to be had with a private jet. It can take you nearly anywhere you want to go, give you the freedom to enjoy the flight, and even bring you an immense amount of comfort and luxury. 

While all these things are lovely, none would be possible – or safe – if there was not a high standard set for the inspection and maintenance of private jets.

What does this entail? Let’s take a look at the process of private jet maintenance. 

The Importance of Routine Private Jet Maintenance

We take care of our cars, regularly changing the oil and rotating the tires. Most car mechanics will even have a timeline for routine maintenance to ensure the longevity of your automobile. Well, private jets are the same way. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has done the same thing, outlining inspections and such based on the age of private jets and their usage level.  

Just as everything else, with use, private jets will experience wear and tear inside and out. But there are certain aspects of these machines that require attention. This comes in routine (or preventative) maintenance, servicing, corrosion control, and regular inspections. 

Routine maintenance is essential to protect the safety of everyone on board. Before the jet moves, there needs to be a high level of confidence that everything – including the engines – is functioning correctly without any hesitation. Of course, this routine maintenance also helps with: 

Extending the life of the jet

● Complying with all safety regulations. 

● Preventing canceled flights. 

● Reducing the need for major, more expensive repairs. 

The Meaning of an Overhaul

You will hear the term overhaul quite a bit when it comes to private jet maintenance. Overhaul means to take something apart to inspect it and make any repairs required. Things like the jet’s engine and landing gear will be subject to an overhaul, for example. There are a lot of small parts that fit together to create a working whole. If one piece is off, then the whole thing will be affected. 

The Frequency of Private Jet Maintenance Inspections

It is important to keep in mind that there are timelines given by both the FAA and the aircraft manufacturer to ensure that your aircraft is cared for properly. However, it should be noted that the FAA often defers maintenance timelines to the manufacturer. 

There is no standard timeline of how frequently you should inspect every aircraft or part of the aircraft. Instead, it varies considerably based on the type of jet, the make, model, the year it was built, frequency of use, hours in the air, number of landings, and so on. 

As a general rule of thumb, however, private jets have a few key milestones that trigger the need for service inspections: 

● After 5,000 landings, the landing gear should be dismantled, inspected, and completely overhauled. 

● Major maintenance should commonly occur every six years. 

● Every 1,200 hours in the air – especially every 2,400 hours in the air – the private jet should go through a rigorous inspection. 

Paying attention to the private jet’s technological systems at all times can give you a general idea of how healthy specific systems are.

Which Areas of the Jet Require the Biggest Focus? 

Every inch of a private jet is important for functioning correctly and safely. But, certain areas require a higher level of focus than others – and this goes above and beyond any timelines set. Areas that need attention are often a jet’s engine and avionics. 

While modern turbine engines allow for a significant length of time between standard inspections or overhauls, they still need to be monitored in the interim. Many of these parts have to handle the pressure and extreme heat that comes with running the engine. So, keeping an eye on the compressor, combustion chambers, burner cans, and all their parts is crucial for safety. 

The avionics system onboard the private jet needs to be in working order to ensure all navigation and communication systems are functioning correctly. Frequent software updates should always be performed so that function remains optimal. 

How Much Does Private Jet Maintenance Cost?

The cost to maintain a private jet will vary based on certain things, such as the frequency of required maintenance, the age of the jet and hours flown, the number of landings, and so on. All of these factors will determine the level of maintenance required and whether they would be simple repairs or major overhauls. Of course, routine inspections are likely to cost less than major overhauls, but putting a general price on these things is impossible due to all the variables involved. 

The cost of maintaining a private jet also comes down to whether you have your team handling the maintenance or if you would outsource the work to a maintenance company or join a program. 

Maintenance Compliance: Who’s Responsible? 

So we know all these inspections and routine maintenance are required to keep private jets functioning safely, but who is responsible for making sure it happens? It is up to the owner or operator to properly maintain the private jet. The important part is to make sure that those who are handling the maintenance have been Federal Aviation Administration approved/certified. 

Final Thoughts

Private jet maintenance is crucial for the life of the aircraft and the safety of those on board. Engaging in routine private jet maintenance to keep the jet running efficiently is just as important as routine inspections. This is to ensure all the parts are in working order and checks to ensure that all avionic software and communication systems are up to date and running correctly. 

Maintenance, inspections, and overhauls come due at varying times based on how often a private jet is used, its age, and so forth. Those who offer charter private jet flights understand the importance of caring for the aircraft and work with the best professionals to ensure all is well on the ground and in the air. 

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Aircraft

Aircraft Maintenance: Improving Safety Ratings for Charter Jets

While air travel is a significantly safer mode of transport than driving according to reports from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), accidents do occur (1). The majority of aviation accidents involve amateur pilots that fly small, private planes in what is known as the general aviation category. However, the accident rate for chartered jet flights that are flown by professional pilots is also slightly higher than the accident rate for commercial flights. For every 100,000 hours of operation, charter jet services had 1.27 accidents; commercial flights had only .155 accidents per 100,000 hours of operation in 2014 (2). Here are industry-backed reasons for the higher rates, some ways that charter jet sector leaders seek to improve the safety of their offerings and a few characteristics of safety-conscious charter jet providers.
Common Causes of Chartered Jet Accidents
The most common cause of charter jet and commercial plane accidents is operator error. However, some airplane accidents also result from mechanical problems and improperly maintained equipment. For example, the 2014 charter jet crash that killed seven people near Bedford, Massachusetts during takeoff was caused by a mix of pilot error and Gulfstream G-IV design flaws.

The investigation that was conducted by the NTSB indicated that the flight crew failed to conduct a critical pre-flight check that would have alerted them to unlock flight control mechanisms prior to takeoff. NTSB also identified the Gulfstream G-IV’s design as a contributing cause of the crash; the high-powered jet’s avionics should have minimally given the pilot an unmistakable alert that the plane’s controls were in the locked position prior to takeoff. Since the plane’s design was certified for public use by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the NTSB passed along some of the blame for the accident to them as well (3).

Even though the causes of the Massachusetts Gulfstream G-IV crash were not related to improperly maintained equipment, plane operators could have identified the plane’s design flaw through routine aircraft maintenance inspections and safety audits. Many charter jet aircraft maintenance shops also conduct upgrades and retrofits for planes, and this type of fix could have been done for the Gulfstream G-IV that crashed near Bedford.

 

Initiatives for Improving Safety Ratings


Aircraft manufacturers, the NTSB, the FAA and a number of private, professional organizations such as the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) work together to lower accident rates that relate to corporate flights. The FAA gathers input from the business aviation community and updates certification requirements for planes that are used for private jet services. Third-party organizations like the NBAA also provide updated professional development for those employed in the business aviation sector

 

Choosing a Safety-Conscious Charter Jet Provider
Selecting a charter jet service is all about comfort and convenience for most people. However, the recent private jet accidents highlight that all charter jet airlines are not created equally when it comes to aviation safety. Outstanding charter jet service providers exceed the standards set by the FAA. Working with independent audit firms such as WYVERN Consulting, is one way that charter jet service providers can improve the safety of their services and distinguish themselves from competitors. WYVERN does site audits for charter jet providers’ aircraft and crew, and their investigative methods and recommended aircraft operating procedures get measurable results. Other private jet charter companies show that they make aviation safety a high priority by employing qualified aircraft mechanics who conduct safety checks and aircraft maintenance in-house.

 

Links
1. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/air-travel-safer-car-travel-1581.html
2. http://time.com/2807413/safe-private-jets/
3. http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Pages/AAR1503.aspx

 

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