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4 Answers

Safety of flight, or not?

Asked by: 3032 views General Aviation, Private Pilot

C-172 Rental, I have flown this plane for the last 3yrs. I arrived at the airport for a cross country.(back same day) Got the planes log, and noticed a write up Pilots door handle (inside) broken. During the preflight sure enough it spun around, just like a kids pin wheel. I accepted the plane. But in the back of my mind it ate at me. (I was a flight engineer in the AF. C-141's and private pilot now.) Would this be consitered a safety of flight issue? To me yes. Before TO ck list states "Doors/Windows locked" If handle spins then its not. Others say I am being a little picky. I have refused the plane before, for oil drops on the nose gear tire, and other things like that. But thats my military training, the civilians say I am to picky.

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4 Answers

  1. Kent Shook on Oct 19, 2010

    Absolutely – Well, it’s more a “safety of crash” issue, as the plane will fly just fine if the door pops open but if you have to make an emergency landing, darn skippy you want to be able to get out in a hurry if the plane catches on fire.

    That said, if you’re flying a typical rental 172 on a flight where you would require charts (IFR, unfamiliar areas/airports, etc.) and the door pops open, it’s gonna be hard to keep all that paper in the cockpit, and harder to use it as well.

    You do have a second door on the 172 at least, so hopefully you can get out – And hopefully you wouldn’t have to egress in a hurry anyway. But it’s wise to be prepared for everything possible. I can say that a door handle acting like that would certainly make me very uncomfortable. I would also wonder what else needed work that may not be so obvious.

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  2. Brian on Oct 20, 2010


    You don’t need that, just take the door off and leave it in the renters office next time. 🙂


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  3. Curtis Ide on Oct 23, 2010

    Already good points on safety so I will stick to legal.
    Our local FAA holds this formal opinion – If anything is not operating as it was certified by Airworthiness Certificate it has to either be repaired or marked as inoperative.  In order to mark it as inoperative you have to go into your equipment list and see if it was an optional item.  In this case a door and door handle are required.  If you were ramp checked on landing they could easily give you trouble.  Further in a flight school you generally need to write any item up and not try to troubleshoot yourself.

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  4. MikeO on Oct 23, 2010

    Curtis, I thank you for that bit of info. Thats what I really needed to know. I could deal with a possible door opening in flight. Mentally was prepared for that possiblity.
    But the legal side…I do not want any dents on my certificate.
    Thank You

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