Most owners of General Aviation aircraft probably think of maintenance as a necessary evil. To keep an aircraft safe to fly, maintenance is definitely necessary. How many times has a brake failed because the linings were worn out and the aircraft veered off the runway to spoil an otherwise great day? What about a tire that went flat because of being low on pressure and ruining a day at the beach?
General aviation maintenance is different from the larger aircraft as owners/operators are allowed to accomplish much of the work themselves as defined in FAR 43 "preventative maintenance". Changing brake linings is a simple process if you have the proper tools (much easier than changing pads on a car). The pilot operating handbook shows the proper pressure required for each tire and putting air in the tires is very easy. Sometime the tire servicing is made more difficult because of wheel fairings, but still is very basic.
Flying an aircraft with low tire pressure not only wears out the tread on the outboard edges prematurely, but is dangerous because the only thing that a tire uses to secure it to the wheel is friction at the bead. If the pressure is low, and hard braking is required, then the tire could slip on the wheel which would reduce the amount of braking available. Most of the time these small airplanes don't need much in the way of braking, but when you need it the most, it may not be there.
Thirty five years ago I decided to pursue a career in general aviation maintenance and have been doing it ever since. I soon found that I was allergic to JetFuel and started maintaining aircraft with reciprocating engines only. The aircraft that were brand new when I started can now be considered antiques (can I therefore be considered antique?) but many are still operating every day due to the quality of maintenance they have received.
This blog is intended for anyone that may be able to benefit from my many years of experience and some of the humerous things that have been seen along the way.
One example of "what was he thinking?
Occasionally a main tire will wear unevenly on either the outer or inner edge. To extend the life of the tire, the tire is removed from the wheel, inner and outer sides are reversed and reinstalled. I mistakenly asked a young general aviation maintenance technician to rotate one of these tires for the customer. The technicial jacked the aircraft, rotated the tire around several times and put the aircraft back on the ground. I have since learned to ask to have the tire reversed rather than being rotated.