Maintenance Check Flight for Flight Operations (MCF)

by Admin on November 8, 2022

If an airworthiness certificate or a permit to fly is present on an aircraft, a maintenance check flight (MCF) is a flight performed for troubleshooting or to verify the functioning of any system, part, or appliance after maintenance, if the system, part, or appliance cannot be determined to work during ground checks.

In the following situations, a MCF is performed:

  • Depending on the aircraft maintenance manual (AMM) or any other aviation maintenance data issued by the holder of the design approval
  • After maintenance, according to the operator’s request or the proposal of the organization responsible for maintaining the aircraft’s airworthiness
  • For verification of successful defect rectification as requested by the maintenance organization
  • In order to isolate faults or troubleshoot problems.

Aircraft Status Requirements for Conducting an MCF Before Departure

As with normal flights, the same provisions apply. Defects that remain open and those that have been deferred may affect the results of the test and the way the MCF is conducted. As a result of the combination of an existing defect and the possibility that the checked system will fail during the MCF, the pilot may face unexpected or combined emergencies. MCF forms describe open and deferred defects so that the pilot is properly informed before the flight.

Fuel Loading

As outlined in the Operations Manual. In case of supplemental tests or possible alternate landings, the pilot should consider extra fuel.

Mass and Balance

A thorough understanding of mass and balance, as well as the exact location of the centre of gravity throughout the flight, cannot be stressed enough. An aircraft’s CG (Centre of Gravity) may influence flight performance, and dangerous aircraft behaviour may be inducted.

The mass and balance of an aircraft may differ greatly from those used during normal operations during MCFs, so it is important to ensure that both are checked fully prior to each MCF.

After a major maintenance or after a new aircraft weighing, the mass and balance computation tool verify the correct CG position and basic empty mass.

Safety Equipment and Specific Test Equipment

A reference to the related work order is inserted in the MCF form or the form itself specifies the equipment required for the MCF.

Levels of MCF

The aircraft operator must determine the appropriate MCF level before conducting a aviation maintenance check flight as follows:

  • In certain situations, such as when an aircraft flight manual defines abnormal or emergency procedures, or where a backup or safety device needs to be tested, ‘Level A-MCF’ is required.
  • MCFs other than ‘Level A’ should be classified as ‘Level B’.

NCOs (Non-Commercial Operations)

MCFs involving aircraft other than complicated motors are governed by Part-NCO. The pilot is required to inform air traffic control of the particular MCF, if necessary, in addition to the standard considerations before a typical flight as well as determine the appropriate airspace, assess the complexity of the flight and develop appropriate strategies for mitigating potential risks based on understanding the aircraft’s airworthiness status.

SPOs (Specialized Operations)

A MCF with a motor-powered aircraft falling under Part-SPO is governed by this rule. The operations manual or a dedicated maintenance check flight manual must describe the operations and associated procedures during a Level A maintenance check flight; the manual must be updated when necessary; aircraft maintenance technician affected by the manual must be informed of any changes relevant to their responsibilities, and the manual and updates must be provided to the competent authority.

FCF (Functional Check Flight)

A functional check flight is a non-revenue flight performed solely to ensure that certain aircraft systems are functioning correctly in the air. Several reasons can justify these flights, including:

  • The following maintenance action is necessary after the first significant maintenance action
  • As soon as a major Base Maintenance Check has been completed, such a ‘C’ Check or a ‘D’ Check
  • In accordance with the regulations of the organization, the local community, and the state
  • When an aircraft is accepted or changed possession.

For the purposes of customer acceptance of new aircraft, renewal of a Certificate of Airworthiness, or any type of flight requiring a trained test pilot, the term does not include formal test flights conducted by trained test pilots employed by an aircraft manufacturer or National Aviation Authority (NAA).



Briefing Topics Specific to Pre-Flight

For maintenance tasks that may directly affect the aircraft’s handling or performance, a specific note will be entered in the MCF form. The briefing will emphasize recording data and recording defects or indications for maintenance staff, as well as recording the data that are needed. Here are a few topics for briefings, not all of which are exhaustive:

Status of the Aircraft

Following maintenance, documentation is provided by the maintenance organization

Maintenance Summary

In accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications as required by the maintenance organization

Procedures, Limitations, and Flight Program

The maintenance manual for the airframe/engine or other manufacturer’s product will contain specific procedures and limitations. MCF forms or related work order instructions provide details about the programmed.

Procedures for Emergencies

In order to check the systems to be inspected, all abnormal and emergency procedures related to the systems to be checked must be evaluated

Managing the Responsibilities of Crew Members

Pilots of MCFs are responsible for making sure that their crews are suitably trained for the task at hand.

On Board Documents

  • A copy of the MCF form or the required procedures
  • Clearly defined parameters for registration
  • The QRH (Quick Reference Handbook) or similar document describing the safest procedure in case of an emergency
  • Other useful or required documents

iJET Maintenance Check Flight Services

Once you get your permit and start flying, iJET will take care of all ground and sky operations for you, including Overfly and Landing permits, Ground handling and fueling, Flight Planning, and Line Maintenance.

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