Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weight Changes

One important preflight consideration is the distribution of the load in the aircraft. Loading the aircraft so the gross weight is less than the maximum allowable is not enough. This weight must be distributed to keep the CG within the limits specified in the POH or AFM.

Weight and balance of a helicopter is far more critical than for an airplane. With some helicopters, they may be properly loaded for takeoff, but near the end of a long flight when the fuel tanks are almost empty, the CG may have shifted enough for the helicopter to be out of balance laterally or longitudinally. Before making any long flight, the CG with the fuel available for landing must be checked to ensure it will be within the allowable range.

As an aircraft ages, its weight usually increases due to trash and dirt collecting in hard-to-reach locations, and moisture absorbed in the cabin insulation. This growth in weight is normally small, but it can only be determined by accurately weighing the aircraft.

Repairs and alteration are the major sources of weight changes, and it is the responsibility of the A&P mechanic or repairman making any repair or alteration to know the weight and location of these changes, and to compute the CG and record the new empty weight and EWCG in the aircraft weight and balance record.

The A&P mechanic or repairman conducting an annual or condition inspection must ensure the weight and balance data in the aircraft records is current and accurate. It is the responsibility of the pilot in command to use the most current weight and balance data when operating the aircraft.

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