December 2000 Issue

Post Wrench Test

A flight test after maintenance needs to have more than just a careful preflight

It’s somewhat astonishing to see how many accidents, or at least scary moments, occur on the first flight after maintenance. Perhaps the most striking one is the notorious case of a Navajo, in which the aircraft came out of the shop, took off, rolled over,and crashed, killing the pilot. The investigators discovered that the ailerons were connected backwards – yoke left rolled the plane right.

It’s pretty easy to sit back in the cold, hard light of day and think, “What a dummy!” about that pilot. If the pilot really did follow the preflight checklist and note “controls free and proper,” there’s a lesson for another day about seeing what you expect to see rather than what you really see. F...

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