Your Beechcraft King Air needs regular TLC - just like you - to keep performance top-notch. While you have an experienced aircraft mechanic or two in your corner to keep up the larger maintenance schedule, it's also important that you have an idea of the DIY actions your aircraft needs. Regular upkeep not only promotes aircraft reliability, but can also lower overall operating costs. Most importantly, airplane maintenance keeps you and your passengers safe.
Like any machine, your Beechcraft King Air should be in stellar working order before takeoff. In addition to your pre-flight safety checks, make sure that regular maintenance checks are taken care of. Additionally, remember that every seven days (regardless of any flight times), the engine is operating long enough to stabilize oil temperatures. During this time, exercise propellers, make sure the electrical systems are energized except the landing gear-and if possible, take it on a short flight.
Your Monthly Checklist
The seven-day maintenance is a must, but there are also monthly checks to be performed. At least every 30 days, run the air conditioning system for a minimum of 10 minutes-this will stop moisture from collecting in key low areas. Otherwise, the refrigerant lines can start to corrode and the seals may dry and shrink. This can lead to a Freon leak, which is a pesky problem that's easily preventable.
Of course, it's also paramount to fly your King Air at least once a month. The adage, "Use it or lose it," is true especially with airplanes. If you're unable to fly for more than seven days, the previous maintenance checks are the bare minimum. However, there are added preventative measures to be taken as well. Make sure your team is on top of the following minimum steps, and any metaphorical "turbulence" can be avoided.
Caring for Your 'Craft
Regularly wash the engine compressor and turbine, preferably once a month, because pollutants in the atmosphere can easily muddy the engine's gas path. This can cause buildup, corrosion and eventually deterioration. Specific instructions for washing can be found for your aircraft in the maintenance manual. This is easily one of the most overlooked of checks, but can also cause the most damage since the symptoms of a dirty gas path are often missed until it's too late. Your King Air expert mechanic is one of your best resources for aircraft maintenance so ideally you should be working together on the care of your plane.
Checking the tire pressure on a regular basis is also highly recommended, and ideally before each flight. As you know, takeoff and landing are the most critical aspects of flight, and where most mistakes are made. Did you know that tires can deflate up to five percent in just 24 hours? That can make a huge difference in ground navigation, especially if the tire's weep holes aren't up to snuff.
If you've perused the King Air owner's manual for your aircraft, you'll notice that the maintenance schedule is daunting at best, but there's a very good reason for it-your safety, not to mention an enjoyable flight, depends on a perfectly functional aircraft.