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Home > Blog > Maintenance Of Light Aircraft

Maintenance of Light Aircraft

Posted 21 May 2022

Maintenance of Light Aircraft

If you are a private pilot who is interested in owning their own aircraft, familiarising yourself with the ins and outs of aeroplane maintenance is key.

If you are a private pilot who is interested in owning their own aircraft, familiarising yourself with the ins and outs of aeroplane maintenance is key.

In order to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience while up in the sky as well as while you’re on the ground, it is necessary to make sure your aircraft is up to standards in terms of maintenance.

Aircraft are not much different from motor vehicles. Just as a motor vehicle will need to undergo regular maintenance and servicing, with things such as oil changes, as well as tyre and engine checks, your aeroplane needs to be routinely maintained in order to make sure it is giving the best and safest performance. Aircraft maintenance is not a one-person job, and you will have to collaborate with your local certified Aircraft Maintenance Engineer to ensure that your aircraft is in top shape.

However, while most of the legwork is managed by professional engineers, it is important for a pilot to be familiar with the processes and timelines involved in maintenance so that they can have their aircraft successfully serviced at the right time.

It is also important to understand your aircraft and assess when it needs to be taken in for maintenance. This is important in preventing long-term damage and ensuring your aviation experience is as safe and smooth as possible.



 There are many reasons why maintenance of light aircraft is necessary. As already mentioned, an aircraft is not very different from a motor vehicle, and the reasons behind regular maintenance and servicing are also very much the same.

To break it down, here are the main reasons why you should make sure your aircraft is being maintained properly.


Maintain airworthiness of aircraft

 This is incredibly important, and in fact, an aircraft that is not deemed airworthy cannot be legally flown, as it is a danger to both passengers as well as the people on the ground.

An aircraft is airworthy when it is in a condition that makes it safe to operate. There are set requirements that an aircraft must meet in order to be deemed airworthy, and while there may be a few differences in the exact rules and regulations depending on one country to the next, they are more or less the same.

Maintaining airworthiness is necessary if you wish to legally operate an aircraft, not to mention it ensures that the aircraft you are flying does not pose a threat to either the passengers or anyone else. 


Make sure it can take off on schedule

 Sometimes, unforeseen issues can delay an aeroplane's take-off time. This can become a cause of great disturbance when it comes to scheduling flights. Many of these unforeseen issues can be managed if an aircraft is regularly serviced and maintained since any possible problems are nipped in the bud when they are caught early during routine inspections.

This is highly beneficial when it comes to saving time. Other than the fact that aeroplanes usually operate on strict schedules, shared aircraft, such as in the case of fractional ownership, are with a pilot for a limited time. It is necessary to maintain the aircraft in the best possible condition so that this precious time is not wasted.


Maximising aircraft value

Aircrafts are a huge financial investment and are an asset, just like homes or cars. It is important for many pilots to maximise the aircraft’s resale value. For this to happen, the aeroplane must be in good condition, which can be achieved via regular maintenance.

An aeroplane with too much damage from wear and tear or internal issues due to neglect may lead to the pilot wishing to sell the aircraft incurring a loss. Because of this, it is best practice to regularly have the aeroplane serviced.

Saving money

 Minor issues that are caught early on can be dealt with easily for the most part. Minor damage to the body of the aircraft or a few cogs not working efficiently can be fixed without much financial investment.

However, if servicing and maintenance are ignored and the aircraft is forced to accumulate damage, the issues may become more burdensome. Rough handling can damage parts of the aircraft, and replacements don’t come cheap.

Because of this, it is recommended that pilots regularly have their aeroplane serviced, so as to not bear any large maintenance-related financial burdens in the future.


 While regular maintenance is key to making sure your aircraft remains airworthy, there are certain steps pilots can take to make sure their aeroplane does not need too much work while being serviced. However, it is necessary to note that regardless of what steps you take to ensure continued airworthiness, regular maintenance remains at the top of the list.

Here are ways you can reduce the time your aircraft spends at the engineer’s workshop and stays in great condition throughout its life.


Flying aircraft in suitable conditions

This one is a no-brainer. If you fly your aircraft in unideal conditions, the chances of it sustaining damage go up. Light aircraft are generally smaller and not as sturdy as the larger commercial variety, which is why they should not be flown in bad weather.

If you fly a small aircraft during storms and strong winds, you are increasing the chances of your aeroplane needing more time at the engineer’s workshop later on. Try not to fly in weather that is not the best for your aircraft, especially if you are flying one that belongs to the lighter variety.

Keeping an eye on wear and tear

As discussed above, neglecting wear and tear and not having your aircraft regularly serviced may lead to your aircraft sustaining long-term damage which is much harder to fix.

If an aeroplane is routinely maintained and serviced, minor issues can be dealt with ease before they turn into larger, more financially draining problems. Keep your aircraft in top shape by ensuring that you do not allow the aeroplane to accumulate damage, since it can turn into quite a hassle to rectify such issues later on.



There are different types of maintenance procedures, with most light aircraft going through all of these at least once. The type of maintenance required and when is dictated by the Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM), which is issued by the factory that makes the aircraft.

The AMM maps out the kinds of maintenance that will be needed in order to ensure the aircraft is in an airworthy state. These guidelines are usually in line with the requirements of the country’s aviation authority.

Storage maintenance

While it is definitely true that an aircraft that regularly takes to the sky requires more maintenance, your aircraft in storage also needs a fair share of care. While an aircraft that is not taken to the skies on a regular basis does not sustain the kind of wear and tear-induced damage as those that fly often, it is necessary to have the aircraft maintained according to the guidelines in the AMM.

 As mentioned earlier, aircraft are an asset and the storage maintenance is usually considered an investment. Storage maintenance also means many issues are caught and rectified long before an aircraft takes to the skies and potentially makes the problem worse, so it saves money in the long run.


Service maintenance

 When an aeroplane is taken to the skies and is in regular use, there is a lot more maintenance required since there is more wear and tear involved. What kind of maintenance is required and how often is dictated by the AMM, which varies according to the make and model of the aircraft. In general, there are two broad categories of aircraft maintenance while in service. These are line maintenance, base maintenance and workshop, often shortened to shop, maintenance. 




Line maintenance

When it comes to maintenance of aircraft in service, this is the simplest of the lot, and it is also performed most often. Line maintenance is the kind that is performed by flight line personnel and well as, to some degree, by the pilot and crew themselves. Line maintenance includes things such as pre-flight checks, ensuring that the aeroplane is fit to take off, and is well-prepared for a smooth journey.

Regular and thorough line maintenance is the key to making sure no big issues crop up in the future, since more problems are caught and dealt with early on. Most of the tasks involved in line maintenance can be performed quickly and with relative ease. Examples of these include visual inspections, replacement of surface-level parts that are easily accessible, as well as troubleshooting minor issues. 


Base maintenance

 Base maintenance is also sometimes referred to as heavy maintenance due to its in-depth and relatively more complicated nature. This includes servicing and maintenance at a deeper level, and cannot always be performed by the crew and in-flight personnel.

Due to its more complicated nature, it is often outsourced. Engineering facilities with the needed equipment and expertise take over to perform base maintenance.

This is performed less regularly and includes tasks such as checking for corrosion and other sources of deterioration in the airframe as well as the engine, upgrading technology, and cabin reconfigurations that can include seat changes and repainting.


Shop maintenance

This is the most in-depth level of maintenance and is performed least regularly. This type of maintenance is called workshop maintenance and requires the pilot to transport the aircraft to an engineering facility.

Shop maintenance is mostly component-specific, removing and servicing certain parts of the engine, and is the most specialised of the three types of service maintenance. While shop maintenance can be carried out in the same engineering facilities as base maintenance, sometimes the work is outsourced to workshops that deal with specific parts.  



 How often a light aircraft needs to be serviced and maintained is dictated by the Approved Maintenance Schedule (AMS), which varies from one aircraft to the next. There are generally three types of intervals that are taken into consideration when maintaining light aircraft.

Hard time

This type of maintenance is done according to a strict schedule and involves large scale overhaul and replacement. It is usually dictated either by a set calendar or a timeframe depending on flight hours or number of landings.


This type of maintenance is performed according to a schedule where it is decided whether a certain aircraft component needs work done or replacement. It is a preventative process that helps ensure the aircraft is functioning properly.

Condition monitoring

 This is the latest and most efficient kind of maintenance. Newer aircraft come equipped with sensors that analyse the aircraft’s condition and performance, prompting a pilot to take the aircraft in for servicing in case any anomalies or inefficient performance is detected.


There are several engineering facilities available throughout the United Kingdom that perform light aircraft maintenance. Pilots have the option to take their aircraft in to get serviced by specialised facilities that deal with certain parts of issues, while also having the option to have their aircraft maintained by facilities that perform more holistic checks.

For those who are members of aviation clubs such as Sherburn Aero Club, you will find that the clubhouses a dedicated engineering facility to accommodate aircraft maintenance required by its members.


Sherburn Engineering

Here at Sherburn, we share our airfield with a dedicated engineering facility that specialises in fixed-wing aircraft. The facility ensures that the club’s fleet is functioning to the best of its ability and also offers pre-buying inspections for pilots looking to purchase their own aircraft.

The facility helps keep the resale value of the aircraft up and also ensures the airworthiness of the aircraft. Sherburn Engineering issues Airworthiness Review Certificates (ARC) as well. Apart from maintaining the club’s own fleet, the engineering facility at Sherburn caters to private pilots who own their own light aircraft as well. The services also include CAA approvals, scheduled maintenance as well as unscheduled maintenance.

Located conveniently on the premises of the club, the facility provides members easy access to a world-class engineering facility as well as top-of-the-line certified maintenance engineers.


Sherburn Aero Club has been operational since 1964 and is the ideal place for all of your training and flying needs.

We cater to brand new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades. Sherburn offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

The club also has a dedicated weather webcam that constantly monitors the meteorological conditions in the aerodrome to help pilots decide whether it's safe to take to the skies or not. The club’s dedicated engineering facility offers pre-buy inspections, with Sherburn helping guide members with regards to what kind of aircraft and mode of ownership is best-suited to their needs.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran. The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation for the long run.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on light aircraft maintenance as well as the club’s engineering facility.

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash 



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