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Home > Flying the Plane > Do you require a set of keys or a code to start the engines of a commercial jetliner?
Do you require a set of keys or a code to start the engines of a commercial jetliner?
Flying - Flying the Plane
Monday, 09 January 2006 02:14
Dear Captain Lim,

Hope you are fine. Great site! Very enjoyable and informative!
Thank you.

1. A question regarding aircraft maintenance logbook.

Every plane has a maintenance logbook ? correct ?handwritten stuff - for pre-flight, in-flight, post-flight? Is it simply a stand-alone book, and if so, "what happens if it goes missing"?

Is there a back up (or two) per registered aircraft that "cannot be lost or mislaid??

2. Second question...

When a commercial jet is parked at an airport, who has the authority to enter and commence ("start up") the airplane*s systems, and HOW exactly is this done, i.e., is there a "set of keys" or a code, or whatever, and does more then one airport person have access to that?

I just find it intriguing to consider that, possibly only one or two folks have that authority, and if so, what happens if they are unavailable/ill/whatever.

Kind regards,

Sam McNally,
Frequent International Flyer.

Hi Sam,

Yes, every plane has a maintenance logbook. It records the history of all the defects of a particular plane. So, before a captain accepts a plane that he will fly for the day, he will check through the history of past defects and note down the actions taken. He would then accept the aircraft only if he is satisfied that all is in order. After a flight, he would record the flight times flown and enter any defects for the engineers to rectify.

For example, on a Boeing 777, if the captain finds that the nose wheel steering is very stiff when maneuvering a left turn, he would enter this defect in the logbook. Each entry is made in triplicate. The main engineering station would retrieve one copy and the defect is then stored in the computer.

The maintenance logbook would follow the plane wherever it flies. You asked, "what happens if it goes missing?" Very unlikely, but not impossible!

Well, the records are in the master computer anyway. For instance, if the above plane went off the runway in an airport somewhere overseas after a landing, a quick check of the history in the computer would indicate that the plane has a history of nose wheel steering problem. Yes, the backup for any missing logbook is found in the computer.

There are no keys to start the engines of a commercial airliner except on a single piston-engine plane like a Cessna 172. The only key a captain would probably have is the door key to enter the cockpit. Once inside the plane, any qualified pilot can start the engines; but he does so with the coordination of many parties - the copilot, ground engineers, aerobridge operators, air traffic controllers, etc.

So there is no question of having problems locating the people or authority holding these keys. There are no keys! Yes, you don*t start the engines of a Boeing 777 like you would do on your car!

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