Can I do my own airplane maintenance?
Votes
Answered By AOPA
Can I do my own airplane maintenance?
7 Replies
Votes
AOPA Staff Answer
You can perform certain maintenance operations. They are listed under Appendix ""A"" of FAR43.
(c) Preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance is limited to the following work, provided it does not involve complex assembly operations:

(1) Removal, installation, and repair of landing gear tires.

(2) Replacing elastic shock absorber cords on landing gear.

(3) Servicing landing gear shock struts by adding oil, air, or both.

(4) Servicing landing gear wheel bearings, such as cleaning and greasing.

(5) Replacing defective safety wiring or cotter keys.

(6) Lubrication not requiring disassembly other than removal of nonstructural items such as cover plates, cowlings, and fairings.

(7) Making simple fabric patches not requiring rib stitching or the removal of structural parts or control surfaces. In the case of balloons, the making of small fabric repairs to envelopes (as defined in, and in accordance with, the balloon manufacturers' instructions) not requiring load tape repair or replacement.

(8) Replenishing hydraulic fluid in the hydraulic reservoir.

(9) Refinishing decorative coating of fuselage, balloon baskets, wings tail group surfaces (excluding balanced control surfaces), fairings, cowlings, landing gear, cabin, or cockpit interior when removal or disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is not required.

(10) Applying preservative or protective material to components where no disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is involved and where such coating is not prohibited or is not contrary to good practices.

(11) Repairing upholstery and decorative furnishings of the cabin, cockpit, or balloon basket interior when the repairing does not require disassembly of any primary structure or operating system or interfere with an operating system or affect the primary structure of the aircraft.

(12) Making small simple repairs to fairings, nonstructural cover plates, cowlings, and small patches and reinforcements not changing the contour so as to interfere with proper air flow.

(13) Replacing side windows where that work does not interfere with the structure or any operating system such as controls, electrical equipment, etc.

(14) Replacing safety belts.

(15) Replacing seats or seat parts with replacement parts approved for the aircraft, not involving disassembly of any primary structure or operating system.

(16) Trouble shooting and repairing broken circuits in landing light wiring circuits.

(17) Replacing bulbs, reflectors, and lenses of position and landing lights.

(18) Replacing wheels and skis where no weight and balance computation is involved.

(19) Replacing any cowling not requiring removal of the propeller or disconnection of flight controls.

(20) Replacing or cleaning spark plugs and setting of spark plug gap clearance.

(21) Replacing any hose connection except hydraulic connections.

(22) Replacing prefabricated fuel lines.

(23) Cleaning or replacing fuel and oil strainers or filter elements.

(24) Replacing and servicing batteries.

(25) Cleaning of balloon burner pilot and main nozzles in accordance with the balloon manufacturer's instructions.

(26) Replacement or adjustment of nonstructural standard fasteners incidental to operations.

(27) The interchange of balloon baskets and burners on envelopes when the basket or burner is designated as interchangeable in the balloon type certificate data and the baskets and burners are specifically designed for quick removal and installation.

(28) The installations of anti-misfueling devices to reduce the diameter of fuel tank filler openings provided the specific device has been made a part of the aircraft type certificiate data by the aircraft manufacturer, the aircraft manufacturer has provided FAA-approved instructions for installation of the specific device, and installation does not involve the disassembly of the existing tank filler opening.

(29) Removing, checking, and replacing magnetic chip detectors.
Votes
1080 Posts
Jeffrey Ross:
Ronald Levy:

Except on my Grumman Tiger, you can change the brake pads without disconnecting the brake lines.  This is why the FAA took the view that something which is legal preventive maintenance on one plane might not be on another.  One has to examine the entire process to make the determination.

didn't say I had to disconnect the calipers (although I have under the A&P's supervision to rebuild them), I just said that removing it would be a no no without proper "supervision"


And I was saying that on some planes, there would be no need for a mechanic's supervision/signature to replace the pads since it isn't a "complex assembly operation", but on others where disconnecting hydraulic lines is involved, it could be, which is why there's no one-size-fits-all answer.
Votes
Ronald Levy:

Except on my Grumman Tiger, you can change the brake pads without disconnecting the brake lines.  This is why the FAA took the view that something which is legal preventive maintenance on one plane might not be on another.  One has to examine the entire process to make the determination.

didn't say I had to disconnect the calipers (although I have under the A&P's supervision to rebuild them), I just said that removing it would be a no no without proper "supervision"

Other than trying to be dissuaded, I think the example I provided certainly falls under the guidelines of owner preventative maintenance.

Votes
1080 Posts
Jeffrey Ross:
Ronald Levy:
Not to mention that "can" and "may" are different issues.  Not only must it be permissible by the regulations, but you also must have the knowledge and skill to do so.  For a lot of us, that means getting a licensed mechanic to teach us the procedure and observe our performance of it before we do it on our own.

Let us assume I have the knowledge to do the work I'm looking to perform competently, eg taught, shown, performed the work previously under the supervision of an A&P etc...  So am I reading the FAA interpretation of the rules correctly in that replacing the brake pads would fall under owner allowed maintenance?  I would think so.

Removing the brake caliper completely would be a no no as hydraulic lines are expressly forbidden and the brakes are hydraulically operated.  I'm sure you can make an argument that the FAA was referring to high pressure hydraulic lines, eg those operating gear retraction pistons, but I can see opening the the hydraulic line would introduce air that would have to be bled out, and although I'm capable of doing it, I would think this would not fall under the maintenance guidelines.

Except on my Grumman Tiger, you can change the brake pads without disconnecting the brake lines.  This is why the FAA took the view that something which is legal preventive maintenance on one plane might not be on another.  One has to examine the entire process to make the determination.

Votes
Ronald Levy:
Not to mention that "can" and "may" are different issues.  Not only must it be permissible by the regulations, but you also must have the knowledge and skill to do so.  For a lot of us, that means getting a licensed mechanic to teach us the procedure and observe our performance of it before we do it on our own.

Let us assume I have the knowledge to do the work I'm looking to perform competently, eg taught, shown, performed the work previously under the supervision of an A&P etc...  So am I reading the FAA interpretation of the rules correctly in that replacing the brake pads would fall under owner allowed maintenance?  I would think so.

Removing the brake caliper completely would be a no no as hydraulic lines are expressly forbidden and the brakes are hydraulically operated.  I'm sure you can make an argument that the FAA was referring to high pressure hydraulic lines, eg those operating gear retraction pistons, but I can see opening the the hydraulic line would introduce air that would have to be bled out, and although I'm capable of doing it, I would think this would not fall under the maintenance guidelines.

Votes
1080 Posts
Not to mention that "can" and "may" are different issues.  Not only must it be permissible by the regulations, but you also must have the knowledge and skill to do so.  For a lot of us, that means getting a licensed mechanic to teach us the procedure and observe our performance of it before we do it on our own.