10 Important Things to Know About the Aviation Inspection Process


Trever Rossini is the owner of Inflight Pilot Training and Citadel Aircraft Maintenance at Flying Cloud Airport (FCM) in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

As those who take to the skies already know, owning an aircraft is an investment and keeping the aircraft safe and functional is the primary goal of every owner. Inspections are an important component of keeping a plane airworthy and can Include everything from the regular walk-around to a complete tear down, with the ultimate responsibility being placed on the pilot.


Though inspections may be time consuming and pricey, they are necessary in the life cycle of an aircraft to improve performance, keep the aircraft in top condition, and to guarantee the safety of the pilot and passengers. Review these ten insights on the aviation inspection process.  

1. Register, and then Re-Register

When an aircraft operator purchases an aircraft, it must immediately be registered. Once this occurs, the owner immediately assumes responsibility of maintaining the airworthiness of the aircraft and must comply with all FAA airworthiness directives. Every three years aircraft owners must pay a $5.00 fee and re-register their aircraft, recommitting to ensuring the aircraft is safely taking to skies.

2. Inspections are not a One-and-Done Task

From pre-purchase inspections to those that occur over the lifetime of the aircraft, inspections are not a one-time task. This list sets forth the primary inspections an aircraft owner should expect to complete to meet the requirements of the Federal Aviation Regulation.


Pre-purchase inspections

Prior to investing in an aircraft, responsible consumers should have the plane inspected by a maintenance technician to discover any hidden issues and to offer valuable advice on the overall quality of the plane.


The annual inspection

Every 12 months, an aircraft must be completed by an A&P mechanic with an Inspection Authorization (IA). Should a pilot need to move the plane to another airport for this inspection outside of the time frame, a special ferry permit is required.


The 100-hour inspection

If an airplane is hired to carry anyone besides a crew member or is being used to provide flight instruction for hire must also complete this inspection. If the student is providing the plane for flight instruction, this inspection is not required.


Progressive Inspections

Progressive inspections are an option in certain circumstances wherein grounding of the plane for inspections limits the needed high usage of the craft. These inspections are completed in shorter, more frequent intervals with the intent of keeping the plane in use.

Special Equipment Equals Special Inspection

Altimeter system and altitude reporting system test

This must be checked every 24 calendar months for operation in a controlled space on an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) plan.



This must be inspected every 24 months if it going to be used in flight.


Emergency locator transmitter

This must be inspected every 12 months, typically in conjunction with the annual inspection.


4. Good Pilots Must be Great Readers

A variety of publications are available to pilots to assist in maintaining an aircraft and guiding the inspection process.


Pilot’s Operating Handbook

This valuable handbook provides checklists that assist pilots in inspecting the aircraft preflight and post-flight and help the pilot to ensure that the regular maintenance is up-to-date, and the airworthiness of the aircraft is certified.


Manufacturer’s Manual

The manufacturer’s manual will provide the pilot with the instructions to carry out the inspection process and provide information specific to the specific aircraft.


FAA updates and regulations and revisions

Pilots, and especially aircraft mechanics, should stay on top of releases from the FAA as well as updates on regulations to make sure that all information is accurate and up to date.  “Plane Sense: General Aviation Information” is a publication that helps keep pilots and aircraft mechanics in the know.

5. Record Keeping is Key to the Inspection Process  

Perhaps nothing is more important to the inspection process as keeping accurate records. Logbooks and checklists should be detailed and thorough. Full use of logbooks should be made by pilots, mechanics, and technicians to record each and every inspection, maintenance tasks, parts replacements, and anticipated repairs. These documents should provide the services, dates, and places and are essential to the inspection process, offering the proof necessary to acquire the permits that meet FAA regulations.

6. The Aviation Maintenance Technician has an Important Role

The AMT completes a variety of maintenance tasks and certifies that an aircraft should be in the sky. The list of possible repairs and AMT could make is endless, but some of the routine tasks completed include cleaning and replacing components, lubricating and applying corrosive prevention compound, draining and troubleshooting systems, and inspecting for wear and tear.  

7. There’s More than Meets the Eye

Some issues that arise with maintaining and inspecting an aircraft that are not immediately visible and may require the use of inspection aids or disassembly of aircraft components. A borescope may be utilized to perform in-depth inspections. This tool consists of an eyepiece and a flexible tube and can be used to examine components inside certain areas of the aircraft.  Ultrasonic detection instruments can also be utilized to check for detecting cracks or voids that are not visible to the naked eye. But sometimes, disassembly is necessary to do an in-depth inspection properly, and if this occurs, it should be deemed necessary.

8. “Flyable” does not mean an Aircraft is “Airworthy”

Just because an aircraft can fly does not mean it should fly. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the pilot to make sure they are operating an aircraft that meets the requirements of the FAA. Pilots must check for proper endorsements and insure that all airworthiness directives are completed and logged and contain the required statement approving the aircraft for flight.

9. Love Your Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT)

Repair stations and AMT’s have tremendous responsibility in caring for the aircraft and certifying the safety of the crew and passengers of those who fly. Much of the work they do requires a variety of skills and knowledge that is highly specialized. The work they do can be detail oriented and time consuming. Typically, one person is doing the work and the work takes time, so be patient and take time to acknowledge a job well done.  

10. Anticipate Problems with Aging Aircrafts

Maintaining a plane is time-consuming and expensive. Thorough inspection and maintenance takes time, but it extends the life of the aircraft and secures the safety of the pilot and passengers. As the aircraft ages, more repairs should be expected, which means more repair bills – so budget for these expenses. Tackling these issues as they arise with preventative maintenance will keep the aircraft in top-notch condition for years.  


Looking for help with an upcoming airplane inspection?

Get in touch with the professional team of aircraft maintenance technicians at Citadel today!


Located in the Twin Cities, Minnesota area, our private airplane mechanics are here to provide your aircraft with best-in-class servicing and upkeep so you can always have a fantastic flight. Whether you have a 100-hour inspection, pre-purchase inspection or anything else coming up, we have the ability to help you pass it with flying colors.


The experience we offer gives pilots confidence in their aircraft and sets future expectations for a higher level of service. At Citadel Aircraft Maintenance, we will always treat our clients’ planes like our own.


Get in touch with our team for a free quote on your aircraft’s maintenance needs.


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