Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Elite Aviation Begins Monthly Speaker Series With Engine Maintenance Seminar

By Carmelo Turdo
Elite Aviation, the St. Louis area's newest flight school and maintenance center, held their first speakers series event Wednesday evening at their facility at Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The program, "Engine Maintenance and Monitoring," was an FAA FAASTeam Wings credit flight safety seminar presented by Bill Hopper, owner of HeliSat Helicopter Services and Technologies. FAA FAASTeam Program Manager Phil Dixon assisted with the production of the event, and Elite Aviation provided food for the over 40 pilots participating in the program.        

Co-owner John Tipton welcomed the attending pilots and gave an overview of his business philosophy and services offered by Elite Aviation. He emphasized that aviation is their passion, and that he is dedicated to providing the newest, best-maintained training and rental fleet and the highest possible level of customer service to the St. Louis aviation community. The flight training program uses the latest Cessna aircraft, a top-level Redbird MCX flight simulator and comprehensive ground school academic materials.  The maintenance department provides all aspects of service for piston-powered aircraft.  Elite Aviation also has special holiday offers for introductory flights, so contact them for details.     

FAA FAAST Team Program Manager Phil Dixon introduced the featured speaker, Bill Hopper, and set the stage for a lively discussion of aircraft engine maintenance issues that pilots should check before and during every flight. Hopper, known for engaging the audience during his presentations, began an interactive discussion with the attending pilots with the adage, "Ignorance in aviation isn't blissful, it's fatal." Hopper then pointed out that the pilot should know as much about the aircraft as possible before a flight through careful examination of maintenance log books and a thorough pre-flight inspection of the aircraft. The pilot should also have a reserve of knowledge about the aircraft's powerplant and flight control systems so that he or she can recognize latent failures, those maintenance issues (missing safety pins, loose bolts, etc.) that turn into active (immediate) failures later.

FAA safety seminars are an important way to address human factors in aviation, especially when it comes to reducing accidents due to maintenance and pilot skill deficiencies. Hopper asked the audience if they read the accident reports posted on the NTSB web site, and many responded that they did read them regularly. "You can take any year and read the twelve months of accidents," Hopper said, "and take any other year at random and read those twelve months of accidents and what do you find? The same things are happening. All that change are the dates and the people involved. Why does this keep happening?" The answer, in part, lies in the human factors that include lack of resources to keep the aircraft maintained and complacency in maintenance and piloting operations (see The Aero Experience post in which Hopper describes the Human Factors "Dirty Dozen"). 

Pilots should be willing to learn about their aircraft's mechanical operation, but only some take interest in this vital aspect of their pilot in command responsibilities. Bill Hopper reviewed the requirements for maintenance and inspection log book entries and the steps that pilots can take to detect maintenance issues before a serious active failure occurs. FAA regulations list the preventive maintenance that may be performed by pilots and what must be performed by licensed A&P mechanics. "The information that you need to function in this environment, in the aircraft that you fly, is out there," Hopper said. Regularly reviewing the FAA regulations, and seeking all the available information on the state of the aircraft to be flown, are two common-sense ways to avoid an aircraft incident or accident.

The Aero Experience thanks Elite Aviation, Phil Dixon with the FAA FAASTeam, Bill Hopper from HeliSat and those who attended for making this event a great success.

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