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Multiple preflights in a day

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General Aviation, Private Pilot

If I'm making a trip with stops at, say, two different nearby airports to pick up passengers at each before heading to a third airport, what would you recommend as far as the thoroughness of a preflight after each stop if I shut the engine down to meet the passengers in the terminals?  I already saw another post indicating that the engine run-up portion should always be done on each leg, but I'm curious about the rest of the preflight - lights, stall horn, tires, fuel sumps, oil, etc.  I tend to be overly cautious, but don't necessarily want to waste time, either.

4 Answers



  1. John D. Collins on Mar 24, 2013

    I would always do at least a quick walk around the airplane to make sure nothing came loose or was damaged on your last flight or while it was on the ramp unattended. Look at the tires for flat spots or other issues such as fluids dripping onto the ramp. I would suggest you visually check your fuel and oil level.

    As far as run up, you should at least go thru your pre-takeoff check list and if you decide not to perform the run up it should be a conscious decision and not due to forgetting it. Many pilots don’t do a run up except for the first leg of the day. They argue that they just did a more extensive in flight test of the systems. If you have a constant speed propeller, unnecessary cycling of it can be hard on the engine. Regardless, it doesn’t take much time to do a run up.

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  2. Nathan Parker on Mar 24, 2013

    I almost skipped a runup on a cross country flight after a brief stop to check the weather. But I did it anyway and the plane almost shook apart when I did the mag check. After spending the night in the small town, the next morning the mechanic found a small paint chip blocking one of the fuel injectors.

    My takeaway is never skip the runup, no matter what. As for the rest of the preflight, many people have the rule of thumb that if the airplane has ever been out of your sight, a prudent pilot would do the full preflight. Keep in mind that even a thorough preflight is a pretty unreliable tool to detect aircraft mechanical problems. Many problems develop slowly while the aircraft is operating and the more opportunities you have to examine the aircraft on the ground, the safer you’re likely to be.

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  3. Bill Trussell on Mar 28, 2013

    I could not agree wiht Nathan more. I too have had most of my engine and accessory failures detected during the second run up of the day. Significant Mag failure, fowled plugs, oil leaks, alternator failures and vacuum pump failures were all detected on the ground.

    The time it takes to do another run up or a ground visual inspection is cheap insurance and worth it!

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  4. David Brown on Apr 05, 2013

    The topic of run ups are always emotive, but in order to keep some logic to the process, lets examine which kinds of mag checks actually detect slowly degrading systems the best.

    High power LOP Mag check tests the system the most thoroughly, this is when the magneto, the harness and the plugs have to be in perfect shape. If they are not you will see it here. This test can’t be done on the ground, so the best time is just prior to descent.

    High power ROP, can be useful in flight although a LOP test is better.

    Low power LOP on the ground, first flight of the day, doing this aggressively leaned prevents fouling which is exactly what you are testing for among other things, so doing it full rich is kinda dumb.

    Lastly and almost of no value at all Low power full rich, really only proves you have not had a magneto stolen.

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