If you have a mechanical mind and hands (here I completely exclude myself), and like to problem solve your own aircraft problems, then this one is for you. For example, if on landing you discover your aircraft has a flat tyre, or, during your pre-flight you find a loose aileron bolt – can you fix it yourself? Let’s explore what you can and can’t do…

Essentially all maintenance and repairs are regulated by the law. The short answer (‘reference to CARS 43.02.2), with some exceptions, is that ‘no person shall carry out maintenance on an aircraft or aircraft component unless such a person – …’

  • Holds an AME licence, or is under the direct supervision of someone holding an AME licence.
  • Person is authorised by the holder of an AMO approval with the appropriate rating, and in the scope of this rating.
  • If the maintenance must be done outside of South Africa, the person  must hold a licence or equivalent authorisation issued by an appropriate authority acceptable to the Director, for the type of aircraft or aircraft component.

So can a licenced pilot carry out any maintenance at all?

The answer is yes, but you as the pilot must hold the appropriate type rating issued in terms of Part 61 or Part 62, and only if:

  • You are the owner or operator of the aircraft
  • You do not use the aircraft for commercial purposes

The type of maintenance or repairs that can be carried out is also limited, and based on the following aircraft limits:

  • Maximum certificated mass of 5 700 kg or less, or
  • Maximum approved passenger seating configuration of nine seats.
  • Helicopter with a maximum certificated mass of 3 175 kg or less or
  • Maximum approved passenger seating configuration of nine seats.

When it comes to routine maintenance, scheduled inspections, structural integrity inspections, overhaul, modification, major repairs and structural repairs on all aeroplanes and helicopters shall be undertaken and certified by an appropriately rated approved AMO only.

What repairs can an appropriately rated pilot carry out?

Only in an emergency, and using only approved parts and components, you can:

  • Repair punctures, change tyres and tubes.
  • Service landing gear shock struts with air.
  • Correct defective locking wire and split pins.
  • Replenish hydraulic fluid in the hydraulic fluid reservoir.
  • Small simple repairs to fairings, non-structural cover plates and cowlings by all patches or reinforcements which will not change contours or interfere with proper airflow.
  • Replace side windows where such work does not interfere with the primary structure system.
  • Replace safety belts.
  • Replace seats or seat parts where such work does not involve any removal, dismantling or interference with a primary structure system.
  • Replace pre-fabricated fuel and oil lines, provided that a fuel flow check is carried out in accordance with TS 43.02.8, section A.2(6) “fuel flow checks”.
  • Replace any electrical bulb, reflector, lens or fuse of navigation and landing lights.
  • Replace or clean spark plugs and setting spark plug gaps.
  • Clean fuel and oil strainers.
  • Replace batteries and checking of fluid level and specific gravity.
  • Replace tail wheels and tail-wheel springs.
  • Engine oil change.
  • Removing and installing such dual controls as is designed for easy removal and installation.
  • Replace the following instruments with others of the same type, and which have such markings as may be indicated in the appropriate owner’s manual:
    – Airspeed indicator*
    – Altimeter*
    – Engine speed indicator for each engine
    – Oil pressure gauge for each engine
    – Fuel contents gauge
    *Provided that a pitot static leak check is carried out in accordance with TS 43.02.9

With regards to the above repairs, you are required to notify your regular AMO or the AME normally responsible for the maintenance, to assist you in:

  • Supply of parts
  • Technical advice
  • Maintenance manuals where required.
  • Ensure that any maintenance that is done, is correctly recorded in the aircraft flight folio*, including:
    – Maintenance manuals used
    – Parts replaced (with serial numbers where applicable)
    – Parts repaired
    – Tests carried out

*Entries in the aircraft flight folio must be accompanied by the pilot’s signature, licence number and the date of entry

Just a reminder, that even if you are a pilot, you may not sign an aircraft logbook in the column for the aircraft maintenance engineer or AMO unless you personally also hold an AME licence with the appropriate rating. Finally, if you are in a pickle, and not sure what you can do, rather pick up the phone and call your AMO, your aircraft insurance may not cover any damage to the aircraft caused by an ‘illegal’ repair.

Image: Aviation Voice



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