How to Restore Your Stored Aircraft for Service

Winner Aviation aircraft in a hangar

If your aircraft has been stored for a longer period of time, flying it isn’t just as simple as performing a pre-flight inspection and taking off. There are specific steps that an owner/operator should take to restore their stored aircraft for service.

Factors to Consider

For every type of aircraft, the manufacturer has instructions that an owner/operator should follow whether an aircraft is being put into storage or being pulled out of storage. It’s important that the OEM instructions are followed first and foremost.

Inside or Outside Storage

If the aircraft has been stored outside, then there is the opportunity for rain, snow, or wind to damage the aircraft. For example, Winner Aviation recently had a Conquest that has been stored outside for an extended period of time in cold weather and rain. Moisture got into the belly of the aircraft, and three inches of water ended up in the belly. The water froze in the cold weather, which caused the control cables to freeze.

Fuel Storage

Moisture can accumulate inside of the fuel tanks whether the aircraft is stored inside or outside, however there is a higher risk of contamination when the aircraft is stored outside. In general, it’s a best practice to begin by sumping the fuel. Use a clear container and get the fuel out of the drain. Moisture contamination will settle to the lowest point because water is heavier than fuel. The clear container will allow visibility into how much fuel versus water is being drained. Fuel versus water ratio will determine the next steps for getting the fuel system in shape for service.

Additionally, it’s generally a best practice to keep more fuel in the tank than less fuel. Condensation and temperature changes within the empty area of the fuel tank puts the fuel at risk of contamination. However, if the fuel tank is completely topped off, then you run the risk of an expansion or contraction issue. If your aircraft is stored in a particularly hot environment, the fuel could expand and overflow. This will cause fuel to pour out of the overboard vent. If something happens with the overboard vent and the fuel doesn’t get released because the aircraft has been inactive, the fuel will find the weakest area to pool.

If you are storing your aircraft for a short or long term storage, always reference what your specific engine manufacturer dictates what you should do. For example, TPE331 engines should be ground run every 30 days if the engine hasn’t been preserved. 

Avionics

Even avionics systems require restoration when an aircraft has been stored for a long period of time. The aircraft should be ground run and the owner/operator should power up the avionics to ensure the avionics equipment is displaying properly. Then databases should then be reviewed and updated if updates are available. For example, navigation databases typically update every 28 days, so if the aircraft has been sitting for longer than 28 days, the navigation database may be expired.

Non-display avionics boxes in non-pressurized areas have ventilation holes where critters can also get in during longer-term storage. The panels should be opened and a visual inspection should be completed to ensure nothing has chewed through the wiring.

Ideally, in the event of long-term storage, the avionics should be slid out and placed within a temperature controlled environment.

Review Maintenance Records

Maintenance records should also be reviewed to ensure everything is up-to-date. If airworthiness directives were released while the aircraft is sitting, then further maintenance may be required on the aircraft before it can be deemed airworthy.

Contact Winner Aviation for Inspections and Maintenance

Our maintenance team is dedicated to the health and airworthiness of your aircraft. Whether your aircraft has been stored for a long period of time, or you are simply in need of routine maintenance, we are here to help. We are a Factory Authorized Service Center for a number of airframes, engines, and avionics manufacturers, and we are ready to quote the routine maintenance of your aircraft.

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