As we return to school after the recent COVID-19 lockdown, it is important to consider pilot recency. Many of you will be experiencing the longest break in flying since the start of your training. Whilst it may not be illegal to continue flying, there are certain things to bear in mind.
CASA requirements under Part 61 restrict student pilots from conducting solo flights if they have not conducted a dual flight in the last 30 days or after 3 hours of solo flight. The 3-hour restriction does not apply to those students operating under an approved 150-hour syllabus.
Passenger carrying flights require the pilot to have conducted 3 take-offs and landings in the last 90 days. Lastly, class ratings require a flight review every two years. If a current flight review is held, there are no legal requirements to be met prior to flying alone (under Day VFR) for a pilot who holds a licence.
Additional endorsements and/or ratings may have further requirements, such as an Instrument Rating requiring 3 approaches conducted in the last 90 days. See CASR Part 61 for more information on requirements for your licence and ratings.
Even if the legal requirements are not a concern, it might be a good idea to consider applying some personal minimums. Would you really feel comfortable flying solo after 2-3 months off without a check flight?
It’s also important to make sure your documents and equipment are in good working order prior to jumping in the cockpit. Some things to consider before heading to the aerodrome include:
- Is your medical current?
- Are your charts/ERSA and other required documents up to date?
- Is your flight bag stocked up with the necessary items?
Finally, consider aircraft maintenance. Has your aircraft been sat on the ground without running for a long period of time? At TVSA, our maintenance team have been keeping the aircraft warm whilst we’ve been at home. In preparation for returning to flights with students, our instructor team have also been doing some flights to make sure the aircraft are fit for service.
Be sure to conduct a thorough pre-flight inspection (as always!). Aircraft that have not been operated in a while can be subject to some of the following issues (among others):
- low tyre pressures
- low battery voltage
- fluid leaks and/or low levels
- insects/nests, especially in pitot/static ports
- rodent damage to wiring
- birds’ nests
- dust on airframe and windows
Finally, if you are in any doubt about whether you can return to flying, please get in touch with the team at TVSA who will be more than happy to guide you through the process of getting you back in the air safely.