All aircraft need periodic inspections and maintenance in order to ensure they are airworthy and safe to fly. Some of that, like preventative aircraft maintenance, is pre-scheduled and known to both the pilot and aircraft technician. Other types of maintenance are sudden and unscheduled, which can be due to problems found by the pilot or by the A&P performing an inspection.
Scheduled aircraft maintenance is preventative maintenance that is performed at regular intervals. This type of maintenance generally includes 100-hour inspections, annual inspections, and progressive inspections as well as preflight checks to ensure the aircraft is airworthy and ready to be flown.
While many may consider the preflight check to be just that, a check, it is actually a form of maintenance. Before the aircraft ever takes to the air, the pilot uses a checklist to ensure every aspect of the aircraft is on safe working order.
Annual inspections are detailed inspections performed every 12 months and are required for any aircraft used for hire, recreational, or flight instruction purposes.
100 and 50 Hour Inspections
This comprehensive inspection includes nearly every aspect of the aircraft including the interior, exterior, and mechanical operations. Unlike 100-hour inspections, 50-hour inspections are not required by the FAA. However, because an oil change is necessary at 50 hours, it is generally recommended to perform an inspection of the aircraft as a preventive aircraft maintenance at the same time to prevent any issues from arising.
Routine engine maintenance and inspection also happen during the 100-hour inspection. It involves the changing of oil and cleaning and repairing the spark plugs. If the technical crew finds any damage or defect on the plane, repairs are done to restore the airworthiness of the aircraft and ensure compliance with all applicable FAA regulations.
Preventative maintenance is often simpler, less expensive, and less time-consuming than emergency, unscheduled maintenance for an issue that could have prevented with a routine check.