The airplane is not a car with roadside assistance readily available. Even a relative minor malfunction can generate a dangerous situation if it happens during a critical phase of flight or creates a distraction. Owner-pilots must ensure that maintenance is not neglected and that all maintenance is performed by competent individuals. Renter pilots must become more knowledgeable in how to evaluate an airplane’s airworthiness critically and independently. All pilots must increase awareness of the need to, the extent possible, verify that recently performed maintenance was done correctly.
Unfortunately, verifying that any airplane is airworthy, both legally and in regard to safety, can be complex task. Pilots must perform due diligence in assessing the airworthiness of an airplane, but it is impossible to verify every aspect. For example, crashes have occurred because proper improper torque values were used during internal engine work or an incorrect gasket was used when installing a vacuum pump. Trust is required. For non-owned aircraft, the pilot must trust that the operator is assuring airworthiness and that the maintenance provider is competent and is acting in the best interest of safety. If the pilot is the aircraft owner, then the entire responsibility falls upon the pilot to choose a maintenance provider wisely.
The FAA has published some valuable information on the subject. "Understanding Owner and Mechanic Roles and Responsibilities" presents some excellent points. A two-minute YouTube video with the same title is also available.
NTSB Probable Cause: "A catastrophic engine failure due to improper torque on the engine through-bolt nuts, which resulted in relative movement between the crankcase halves, damage to a main journal bearing, and a loss of oil lubrication." Accident #CEN18LA159
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