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Airplane Owner, But don't have PPL. Can student pilot do oil change on their own plane? I can't seem to find answer on this. Any helps would be great.

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No. A student pilot cannot do preventive maintenace per 14 CFR § 43.3(g) and § 43.7(f):

Except for holders of a sport pilot certificate, the holder of a pilot certificate issued under part 61 may perform preventive maintenance

A person holding at least a private pilot certificate may approve an aircraft for return to service after performing preventive maintenance under the provisions of § 43.3(g).

I believe context makes it clear that "the holder of a pilot certificate" in the former part does not include student pilots. But in any case a student pilot cannot return the aircraft to service after preventive maintenance.

So, is an oil change preventive maintenance? 14 CFR Appendix-A-to-Part-43(c)(23) lists

Cleaning or replacing fuel and oil strainers or filter elements

as a preventive maintenance task. So a student pilot cannot clean or replace oil strainers or filter elements. As this is part of an oil change, it follows that a student pilot cannot do an oil change.

Note that a student pilot can add oil the same way they can add fuel- this isn't maintenance of any kind, just replenishing fluids. The Hochberg (2016) Interpretation mentions that this is not preventive maintenance, citing the fact that it does not appear in part 43 appendix A. If draining the oil is similarly simple, one could argue that that is not preventive maintenance either. So if by an "oil change" you just mean draining and refilling the oil that might be allowed. But replacing or cleaning filters or anything else involving disassembly is definitely not.

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  • $\begingroup$ "I believe context makes it clear that "the holder of a pilot certificate" in the former part include student pilots." Is this sentence meant to say "doesn't"? Or is it ok for student to replace the oil, as long as someone else checks and returns it to service? $\endgroup$
    – jpa
    Commented Jun 10 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ @jpa It means to say "doesn't," yes. Though maintenance can be done by anyone as long as they are supervised by an appropriately qualified individual so also yes a student (like anyone else) could change the oil (or overhaul an engine for that matter) if appropriately supervised. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Jun 10 at 7:13
  • $\begingroup$ Correct. A student pilot (or student mechanic) can perform the work as long as it's under the supervision of someone who is legally authorised to write off on said work. That's how student mechanics get experience, they do the work, a qualified mechanic inspects and certifies it (possibly after corrections). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 11 at 16:08

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