Aircraft Engine - No cowling

Can a pilot perform maintenance on an aircraft?

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Pilots are allowed to perform simple or minor maintenance on their aircraft – what the FAA refers to as preventive maintenance. Appendix A to Part 43 contains a list of tasks that meet the preventive maintenance definition. If a task or maintenance function does not appear in the list, it is not preventive maintenance.

Aircraft Engine - No cowling

Pilots are allowed to perform simple or minor maintenance on their aircraft.

Also, because of differences in aircraft, a function may be preventive maintenance on one aircraft and not on another. To provide for this, the regulation contains the limitation, “provided it does not involve complex assembly operations,” on the aircraft involved so pilots must use good judgment when determining whether the task meets the spirit of the definition.

It is also permissible under § 43.3 for a person working under the supervision of a licensed mechanic to perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations that his supervisor is authorized to perform, if the supervisor personally observes the work being done to the extent necessary to ensure that it is being done properly and if the supervisor is readily available, in person, for consultation. This exception does not apply to required inspections however.

Preventive maintenance can only be performed by the holder of at least a private pilot certificate who is a registered owner of the aircraft. The nature of the work, and the name, certificate number, and type of certificate of the person performing the work must be entered in the maintenance records.

If work is done that substantially affects an airplane’s operation in flight, or if it has been altered in a manner that may have appreciably changed its flight characteristics, the airplane must be flight tested by a pilot with at least a Private pilot certificate and approved for return to service prior to being operated with passengers on board.

Eric Radtke
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