Learning From the Misfortunes of Others

Reviewing NTSB records for your aircraft type can be illuminating.

I wish everyone could have their own Don Krog, one of the A&P technicians who work at the shop at my airport. Don is an airline pilot who also enjoys spinning wrenches on airplanes, so he spends a lot of his "off" time with his hands dirty. One of the big advantages for me is that Don also owns a Bonanza near the vintage of my own, so he has personal insights into a lot of my maintenance concerns. It's always time well spent when I wander into the shop and chat with him for a few minutes.

One pointer he shared with me a few weeks ago was reviewing NTSB records for aircraft similar to ours. You can search accident and incident records by aircraft type, and apparently that's one of the things Don does in his spare time. He warned me that he was noticing a number of instances of engine-driven fuel pump failures in "our airplanes," and that there was an inflight procedure for keeping the engine running by using the hand-operated wobble pump. He had even located advice on how to get the fuel flow started in the event of an engine-driven pump failure. Looking back, I'd also noted several instances of nose-gear failures in "our airplanes" and as a result, Don had overhauled my nose gear during a recent annual. Not required, but a good preemptive measure.

So there could be some valuable information for you and "your aircraft" type among the mishaps endured by others. The NTSB records are a good place to start; and if you find trends emerging, you could follow up with the manufacturer, or in the case of older aircraft, one of the owners' groups such as the American Bonanza Society.