Do pilots of airliners and jumbos do a walk around preflight check for every flight? How do pilots of large airliners and jumbos do sumping. If its not a requirement because of aircraft design, why not implement the same design attributes to smaller and ALL other aircraft?

  • $\begingroup$ Sumping? You mean taking fuel samples? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ Sampling to check for water accumulation in the fuel $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ Note that "being really big" is a design attribute, and implementation for small aircraft is not practical. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ Modern jet transport aircraft have a water scavenge system which mixes water from the bottom of the tanks back into the fuel. Water draining is usually only necessary weekly. This system would incur too much weight and use too much energy on small aircraft versus the time it saves. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


NO, not all airline pilots do a walk-around for every flight.

At my airline, maintenance personnel do a "Pre-Departure Check" (PDC) before each flight from all main bases on all wide body aircraft. (A330, B767, B777, and B787)

The PDC includes:

1) a walk around

2) a check of critical systems

3) a signature in the Journey logbook

As a result pilots very rarely do a walk around on the wide body aircraft.

If we happen to land somewhere without company maintenance, then a walk around would be done by the pilots. If it were an ETOPS flight, we would also have to make an entry in the Journey Log Book stating that the APU oil level was checked by noting the EICAS APU Oil Quantity reading.

In addition to the maintainance walk around, the ramp crew also does a quick walk around inspection just prior to push back.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting, would you say that your airline is the exception rather than the rule? I know pilots from British Airways and Qantas who have to do walkarounds themselves even at their home base. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ I honestly don’t know what other airlines do. I usually do long haul ETOPS flights and assume that other airlines would also require a maintainance sign off before an ETOPS flight. I would expect that maintainance persnonel would do a walk around during this inspection. Do British Airways and Qantas pilots also do walk arounds on ETOPS wide body flights? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Further on Ben's comment, I know Cathay Pacific pilots do that as well. I don't know the exact sign off procedure, but they have many long hauls and presumably ETOPS flight. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ Certainly widebodies, ETOPS I don’t know for sure. I’ll add that it’s usually the cruise relief pilot who gets the job (especially when it’s raining...) $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 21:42

Yes, pilots of airliners do a walk around to visually check the aircraft before every flight, just like pilots of smaller planes do. A quick YouTube search brings up quite a few videos which explains the process.

The short version is, for items that are on the ground or within reach of the pilot, comparatively detailed checks are performed. For items that are beyond reach, a visual inspection is performed.

Due to the design of the aircraft, some checks that are possible on smaller aircrafts are impractical on airliners. For example you cannot move the flaps and elevators by hand. However, you can move them by using the yoke in the cockpit, once hydraulic power is on. There is a sensor which displays the position of the control surfaces in the cockpit. In a small aircraft, the pilot will move the yoke, then turn his head around to visually inspect the control surfaces are deflected to the correct direction.

  • $\begingroup$ "items that are on the ground or within reach of the pilot" For some planes not much falls into that category. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ Every flight? Even if you have a very short turn-around? $\endgroup$
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ A walk around is performed, but not necessarily by a pilot. See Mike Sowsun's answer. $\endgroup$
    – Waked
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 23:54

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