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Perfecting Your Preflight Inspection - tips from the FAA

Updated: Mar 1

A preflight inspection is an essential part of any flight, and it's important to take the time to do it thoroughly. This article provides some great tips on how to perfect your preflight inspection, so you can be sure that your aircraft is safe and airworthy.

One of the most important things to do is to understand your aircraft's maintenance history. This means reviewing the maintenance records and talking to your mechanic about any potential problems. It's also important to develop a relationship with your mechanic, so they can get to know your aircraft and identify any potential issues early on.

In addition to understanding your aircraft's maintenance history, it's also important to use a checklist when performing your preflight inspection. However, it's important not to just rely on the checklist. You should also take the time to look for anything that seems abnormal, even if it's not on the checklist. This could include things like leaks, cracks, or damage.

Here are some additional tips for perfecting your preflight inspection:

  • Start early. Give yourself plenty of time to perform your preflight inspection, so you don't feel rushed.

  • Be systematic. Follow a logical order when inspecting your aircraft, so you don't miss anything.

  • Be thorough. Don't just glance at things; take the time to really look them over.

  • Use your senses. Look, listen, and feel for anything that seems abnormal.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're not sure about something, ask your mechanic or a more experienced pilot.

Specific areas to focus on during a preflight inspection for general aviation aircraft:


  • Look for any cracks, corrosion, or damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage.

  • Check that all control surfaces move freely and are properly attached.

  • Make sure all landing gear components are in good condition.


  • Check the engine oil level and look for any leaks.

  • Inspect the propeller for nicks, cracks, or bends.

  • Make sure all engine cowlings are secure.


  • Check for nicks, cracks, or bends in the blades.

  • Make sure the propeller is secure and free of foreign objects.


  • Turn on all avionics equipment and check that it is functioning properly.

  • Verify that all warning lights are off.


  • Check that all landing lights, taxi lights, and navigation lights are working.

  • Make sure the pitot tube and static ports are clear and free of debris.

Fuel system:

  • Drain a small amount of fuel from each tank and check for water or contamination.

  • Verify that the fuel selector is set to the correct tank.

Tires (if applicable):

  • Check the tire pressure and inflation.

  • Look for any signs of wear, damage, or foreign objects.

Logbooks and paperwork:

  • Make sure all required logbooks and paperwork are on board and up-to-date.

Warning tags or signs:

  • Check for any warning tags or signs on the aircraft, and make sure you understand them.


  • Make sure all inspection panels and fasteners are secure.

  • Check all control fasteners for missing cotter pins, safety wire, and proper torque.

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