Question from Ivor new PPL

I went to hire an aircraft from a different organisation last week and got told off for doing what the manager called an unnecessary C of A check when the aircraft only needed a running check (so he said) Can you tell me what this is and was he really correct?

Yes Ivor you were obviously never shown the abbreviated check after the first flight of the day check (CHECK A). This abbreviated check is sometimes referred to as a running check.

Unfortunately some schools only teach the first flight of the day check and this leads pilots to believe they must do what appears to experienced pilots as a C of A (major inspection) on each and every occasion they fly!

It’s up to you as the commander of the aircraft how you do the walk around but it’s quite in order to do a brief check after the first flight of the day.

Each aircraft should receive a FIRST FLIGHT OF THE DAY CHECK (Check A) every day, this should not be carried out by a student unless he/she is being supervised by a qualified person and that doesn’t mean looking through the window! It means being with the student. Teaching students to do a first flight of the day check for each and every flight implants a bad habit in their minds and makes them very unpopular when they waste time at subsequent hire organisations they visit after qualifying and this is what I think has happened to you Ivor.  A running check should be substituted after the first flight of the day and this is an abbreviated check of the aircraft and the vital equipment etc for flight.

Basically has anybody driven into the aircraft, are the tyres in good condition, is the windscreen clear and clean? Are there any visual leaks?. There is no need to  exercise the flaps.

So: walk around in a circular path and check;

Airframe checked, ensure no damage, no visual leaks, no ice (winter of course)

Tyres serviceable

Propeller serviceable but STAY OUT OF THE PROP ARC (the habit may save your life one day)

Cowls clear , no birds nests (yes I’ve seen a bird start building a nest in an engine cowl 20 mins after parking)

Windscreen clear and clean (never use solvent or abrasive cleaner on Perspex/plastic windows)

Check complete! (Check fuel for water 10 minutes after each refuel)

I will cover first flight of the day check on another page.

Obviously if you feel the need to do a more comprehensive check that’s up to you.

Sounds like the manager was a little rude to you but it is exasperating when the aircraft is hired out for an hour and you are running late and some over zealous pilot comes along and spends 15 minutes on a walk around. Aircraft only earn money when they are flying so understandably there is sometimes pressure to ensure the day is maximised. I fly airliners and I only do an abbreviated check after the first flight of the day check, so I recommend you look at doing a quicker check next time. If you would like me to have a friendly word with your ‘manager’ drop me an email I would be pleased to do so without mentioning your name or the particular incident.



  1. A check should take as long as is needed for the PIC to be happy that the aircraft is air worthy. If’s it’s too long for a flying club, then they should educate the most efficient way of SAFELY performing the check.

    I have gotten into aircraft as a student where instructors have said, “don’t worry about that”, but I always challenge it.

    • The point is that some schools teach a complete Check A every time the aircraft flys thats OK for training when the instructor wants a break but it can become tedious afterwards especially when a flying programme is running late. I dont operate the flaps every time I fly the Airbus its done once a day thats enough!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s