Pilots perform preflights. At least they should. Whether you like to refer to the procedure as an exterior inspection or something else is fine with me. I have heard the semantic argument that pilots can’t do a preflight inspection because only the AME can do an actual “inspection”. This blog may be boring enough without that crap so I’ll skip that argument. A Preflight is a legal requirement and can help you have a much longer career than foolish pilots who do just a quick walk around.Most professional pilots know this and act responsibly.Most of the time.
A preflight should be methodical but not routine. A routine can create complacency and while it is important to check all the critical items it is also important to look at the aircraft from a changing perspective.Most commercial helicopter pilots that I work with do a once over and then pick a different zone of the aircraft to “key on” each day. I also like to consider any factors that have changed in the flying or circumstances that are different. Was the aircraft washed, was it a cold below freezing night ,what was worked on recently ? That sort of thing.
On our S-64E we have no less than 5 people looking at the aircraft each day and night. A post flight is perhaps more important or at the very least, equally important in our operation.I believe a post flight is more important than the preflight in single pilot remote operations.It is surprising how few pilots do a post flight when they are the only crew member on site.
In our operation we have five sets of eyes looking from differing perspectives at the same aircraft. A post flight tells us the condition that aircraft was brought back in and if non scheduled maintenance may be needed.The single pilot operation remotely operated frequently allows for the pilot to perform the preflight sign offs including any A.D.’s and with FAA approval some preventitive maintenance ,including items like chip checks if such were to occur without maintenance available.
So why I wonder, do so many pilots in the position of being the only crew member ignore the post flight ? I remember asking this of a pilot in my employ some years back and he said it was simple. After flying for several hours he had to make the choice between crawling over the ship or pouring a cold beer.
I laughed right along with him as I dug into my pile of resumes. I was sending a mechanic at 7 in the morning now when the post flight would have had the mechanic going out at 7 the night before. The aircraft would be in service now. The customer would have been much happier than he was currently.The other factor to consider is that doing a post flight gives the pilot two looks at the aircraft prior to flight.
The habit of doing a post flight and paying attention to changed situations has grown from some hard lessons learned over the years. Like the saying goes,”learn from the mistakes of others,you will never live long enough to make them all yourself”
The following happened quite a few years ago when I was fledgling helicopter pilot.The story is in the next blog called, Watch This.