#1 Clean your cockpit.
- Make sure your aircraft log is up to date – Many folks keep a flight manifest of to/from info, engine trends, passengers, This little piece is a small habit that can yield big rewards in the future. Tax topics, MX status, Pilot logbook updates, etc., all are impacted by keeping close track of cycles and times!
- POH up to date – Keep it legal silly! Yes, we all are guilty of not updating our POH when we get the little white envelopes from Pilatus! At a minimum, keep a separate folder in the cockpit where you can temporarily house these updates. Then periodically you can update the actual POH (I like a nice four-hour flight at high altitude to do this stuff myself).
- Everything has its place, every place has its thing – I covered a buddy’s flight for him with the aircraft owner the other day and the cockpit was a mess! Keeping a clean, tidy cockpit also enhances your ability to conduct a clean, tidy flight. You know where everything is, you don’t need to go looking for a pen, etc. I have found that being disorganized in the cockpit starts before the flight occurs. Slow down, prioritize, and organize long BEFORE the flight. “Make your bed” has always been one of my favorite sayings…
#2 GO THROUGH YOUR LOGBOOKS AND ANCILLARY DOCUMENTS.
- Entries in place – have you inserted the logbook entries from your last event or annual inspection? Do you have an envelope sitting in the storage area of your cockpit with these things in it? We recently did an audit with a customer and the pilot for their operations and found multiple logbook entries in envelopes still in the cockpit! Keep in mind, you are legally obligated to keep records for the aircraft. The day you do not have these to prove something was accomplished to your MX director, he will beat you over the head with a yardstick. So will the next buyer of your aircraft!!!
- 8130s/337s organized – Let’s face it, this stuff sucks. There are a ton of these documents floating around various random boxes of “airplane material” when we start a project. It’s a mess and this is especially true if the aircraft is older. So, do your best for mankind and take a day to organize these documents into large three-ring binders or file totes – by date if possible. Some day you will be glad you did!
- Store docs and logs in a secure/fireproof place – This should go without saying. It may seem like overkill, but in the aviation industry, we almost have to think “glass half empty” when it comes to risk-avoiding circumstances. Just think, what if my office or house had a fire and all my aircraft logs were destroyed? The value of your asset would be affected, your life would be a mess for several obvious reasons, etc., all because you did not want to spend a few hundred dollars on a fireproof safe! Do it now!
#3 REVIEW YOUR AIRCRAFT MX STATUS SHEET
- Any items due/schedule – this is always a no-brainer! The biggest suggestion I have with this specific topic is to PLAN AHEAD. Shops these days are jammed up and calling 30 days in advance will most likely yield poor results for you. If you know your annual is due in June, call them in February! Also, don’t be the guy who must never do the annual early! Don’t be afraid of performing MX early, yes you give up 30 days of timing, but in some instances, you gain better timing with your own flight schedule and lives!
#4 HANGAR ORGANIZATION
- Everything has its place, every place has its thing, all tidied up—this is the same concept as keeping a tidy cockpit! Messy hangar, messy airplane, etc. The biggest emphasis here is to store chemicals properly, store ancillary aircraft items properly, and so on. Have two extra seats for your aircraft? Place an extra-large garbage bag over each seat and store them elevated on a shelf if possible.
- Floors cleaned – after a year of opening and closing the hangar door in all different kinds of weather, all kinds of “stuff” gets tracked in. This in turn tends to get inside the airplane. Clean hangar floor equals clean airplane floor.
- Fire extinguishers current? Are there exit signs/lights needed in your hangar? Any other safety-type equipment need to be up to date? First aid kit fully stocked? This is a good time to walk around the hangar inside and out and just check on things.
#5 SCHEDULE A THOROUGH DETAIL/CLEANING
- Time to deep clean the inside and outside –It should take a full day or more to detail the aircraft correctly. This is not cheap, but it should be done once a year at a minimum, and preferably quarterly in between dry washing.
- Get inside the wheel wells – this is probably the most overlooked area of an aircraft. How do you see everything properly to perform a preflight inspection? Can you see leaks as well if the wheel wells are black? This is an essential area that should get attention.
- Dress the boots – You know a full set of boots for a PC-12 can cost upwards of $65,000 to replace. Want to know why you replace boots? You don’t keep them ‘conditioned’ properly and dressed. The rubber gets old, dry, and brittle. Boom, you spring a leak on a seam, etc.
- Use your “toothbrush” in the cockpit – I like rubbing alcohol and Q-tips as well. I have also done great damage with baby wipes whilst flying along at FL280!! Human fingers have oil and dirt on them, which transfers to the switches, etc. You know, the switches with WHITE lettering on them. Gross!
- Let’s make it “White Glove” ready – enough said. Respect the multi-million-dollar asset by showing it the love it deserves.
Happy Spring, everyone!