69

It's not duct tape. It's speed tape. Speed tape is an aluminum pressure-sensitive tape used to do minor repairs on aircraft and racing cars. It is used as a temporary repair material until a more permanent repair can be carried out. Probably just got a bit of a gap around the cowling or perhaps a loose fastener or two. It's common practice for sealing ...


64

Paint stripper. Lots of paint stripper. (originally I said thinner, but I have been corrected, it's more accurately called stripper) Seriously though, it's actually not too different to other things that you paint. You need to spray on paint stripper. But, just like when painting the aircraft, it's imperative that you cover up all the delicate systems on ...


55

With a few exceptions (modern aircraft engines with FADEC systems) a "Check Engine" light on an aircraft would be essentially useless. In a modern car we have an Engine Control Unit which manages things like mixture and engine timing. The "Check Engine" lamp illuminates when the ECU has detected a fault that requires some sort of attention, but it's not ...


45

Because your basic premise is completely wrong. The people flying a Cessna or Cirrus generally have a vast amount more knowledge about their planes than the average car owner. Between the POH (Pilot Operating Handbook) and the general systems information that is part of every level of curriculum that level of knowledge of your average GA pilot is vastly ...


44

Automobile engines are not similar. They are liquid-cooled and therefore can be built to much tighter tolerances with regard to thermal expansion and contraction. Air-cooled aircraft engines must deal with a large range of operating temperatures and oil is consumed due to the relatively looser fit of the piston rings.


43

South African Airways flights to 'less developed' locations in Africa often carry a mechanic and some spares on board. If there are no suitable repair facilities, supplies or maintenance personnel available at the destination, then their own guy can fix any minor mechanical issues. If there's a major problem then they would have to fly in additional repair ...


43

For unassembled and new planes or planes not yet painted the green/yellow color you see is the anti-corrosive coating on the aluminum ...every unpainted airplane is nominally green from being coated (typically) with an anti-corrosive green zinc chromate or zinc phosphate primer over the aluminum skins. The different shades of green simply tell you ...


40

It doesn't quite work that way. When an engine wears out it's rated thrust doesn't decline; its "ITT Margin" (or some similar phrase - basically its thermodynamic margin at takeoff) declines. When setting takeoff thrust on a turbofan there is a target N1, or target torque on a turboprop or turboshaft, or Engine Pressure Ratio on a pure jet, and the engine ...


37

Although turbines could be designed to run on ethanol it's actually a lousy aviation fuel (actually it's a lousy fuel in general). Petroleum-based jet fuel is high grade kerosene which has lubricant properties, which ethanol lacks, and ethanol has different characteristics which mean you can't pour it in and use it as a replacement. Some problems with ...


36

For (modern) gliders with highly optimized laminar flow airfoils, bugs (or dirt) are a non-negligible factor, especially in competition gliding. There are some older laminar airfoils that are notoriously allergic to bugs (and rain), but all are to a certain degree. This is also the reason why any glider pilot worth his or her salt will painstakingly clean ...


36

Sure. In fact, the emergency slides have to be removed from aircraft and tested periodically under present regulations. According to Lufthansa Technik: Under current regulations each emergency escape slide must be removed from the aircraft every three years and checked in the workshop. The slide is tested by "flat firing" the slide on the floor; the ...


31

All your plane's systems are happier when you're flying, including the pilot. Ideally, you'd fly often in order to keep your engine happy (distributing clean oil throughout the system to protect against corrosion and heating it enough to drive off water from the crankcase). As a rule of thumb Blackstone Labs (the oil analysis folks) consider piston engines "...


30

In addition to the chemical method in Simon's answer, there are mechanical methods, like bead blasting. This method was introduced in the 80s by airforces concerned with the volume of chemical waste generated by their maintenance facilities. It essentially consists of using compressed air to project fine plastic particles ...


28

One of the main reasons why it's not a good thing to have dead bugs on the windshield is that it becomes very difficult to spot other traffic. Other planes are just little specks at a distance and when your windshield is covered with specks from dead bugs it becomes very difficult to spot another aircraft in the distance.


28

ETOPS stands for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards, a rule which permits twin engine aircrafts to fly routes which, at some point, is more than 60 minutes flying time away from the nearest airport suitable for emergency landing. ETOPS may also be interpreted as Engines Turn or Passengers Swim. It is not a rule which applies after ...


27

They have the usual transport options: shove into cargo area, on a flatbed truck, shipping container,... They can also be attached below the wing of a large aircraft and flown with if there is no room in the cargo area. (stolen from this question) Notice the extra engine on the near wing.


27

The doors are painted like this because it is a federal law that all cabin doors on commercial airplanes should be outlined in a color which contrasts with the fuselage color. It is done so that in case of an emergency on ground, rescue crew can find the doors easily and open them quickly. It happened in past years that passengers survived some crash ...


27

All of the 747-100/200 freighters I flew in the 1990s had FAKs (Fly Away Kits) aboard. I just checked a couple of the weight & balance data sets I still have from having done weight & balance work for one of them up until 2013, and the weights were 1967 and 1939 lbs. If the aircraft was a nose loader, the FAK was usually along the side of the in the ...


27

In my experience, having permanent airplanes standing by as spares does not really happen. Based on historical data potential realtime spares, airplanes with potential availability on any given day, can be pinpointed for reschedule or delayed maintenance, should the need arise. In reality, often the "spare" as you called it, is an airplane that can be ...


26

I've heard it said that the break-even point for owning vs renting is 200 hours/year. I fly a lot less than that, but I don't like sharing my toys, so I own anyway. I make it a point to not actually count my cost of ownership, because it wouldn't be fun any more, but I'll give you some rough numbers. I bought a 1962 Mooney for \$30,000. That's about as ...


25

Cessna 150s have a mechanical tachometer driven by a mechanical tach drive cable geared to the engine. The tach needle is moved by sensing spinning magnets driven by the tach cable. They do wear out over time and yours has reached the end of its life.


24

If you can, you'll fly in maintance yourself to get it fixed, perhaps by chartering a cargo plane on the way. If you can land the aircraft, you can probably get any spare part in through the same runway, with varying degrees of difficulty. If it's bad, Boeing has an Aircraft On Ground team who should be able to fix pretty serious damage. Often, it may just ...


24

How do the engineers, maintenance team, etc know if an aircraft has metal fatigue? First of all, is not an "aircraft" that has fatigue, but a component. To the naked eye, there is no way to detect metal fatigue until it starts being too late: you can only see cracks that are already forming and/or propagating. There are tools available to allow for early ...


23

If the problem is a bad engine and the aircraft is a 747, the most cost effect solution is usually a 3-engine ferry to a repair station. From memory, the protocol to be observed includes: The Captain must do the flying. Only the cockpit crew can be aboard. The fan must be tied down to prevent it's rotation in flight. A specific takeoff procedure is to be ...


23

First, consider what a check engine light actually tells you. In short, it could be almost anything, which isn't very useful information. To find out what the specific problem is, you need to go to a garage and have a mechanic run a diagnostic check to determine what triggered the light. In a car, that's no big deal, but in an aircraft that's a huge problem:...


22

The basic difference is that a mechanic can perform maintenance on any aircraft; a repairman can perform maintenance only on aircraft for their employer, or that they own. The full details are in 14 CFR 65 Subpart D (mechanics) and Subpart E (repairmen). Here are the basic privileges for each one (emphasis mine): A certificated mechanic may perform or ...


22

That is a fuseholder for the optional clock or optional Hobbs meter. The yellow wire probably should be connected to it but you should have a certified mechanic inspect it.


21

I'd refer to FAR 91.3(a): The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of that aircraft. Therefore, I believe you have a duty to determine that the aircraft is properly maintained. While that doesn't mean disassembling it and checking the work yourself, I do think that its reasonable to ...


21

There are plenty of great $20,000 aircraft out there - the hard part is finding them. "What to look for" is an incredibly broad question, and varies substantially between different types of aircraft: You would not look for the same things on a Piper Comanche as you would on a Cessna 182. Accordingly the first thing you want to do is find a mechanic who is ...


21

They are reflective covers to protect the tires from the elements, especially UV. Similar to the shades visible in the windscreen. Goodyear says: Aircraft tires, like other rubber products, are affected to some degree by sunlight and extremes of weather. While weather-checking does not impair performance, it can be reduced by protective covers. These ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible