Most of the placards plastered on my aircraft are just there, like wall paper, and I usually look right through them. But while communing with the aircraft one rainy afternoon in the hangar, I got to thinking about why they existed—did the FAA require them or did the manufacturer get sued for not telling someone to do or not do something? Some seemed legitimate and others were laughable.
Several remind us of FARs or good operating practice. Perhaps they do no harm but it goes to familiarity with the machine and actually thinking about what we’re doing. Aircraft are like chainsaws—they do what they do very well but must be treated with much respect.
This collection is from my Bonanza: Check local listings for aircraft you fly.
Verify door is properly latched before Takeoff
Duh, seems self-evident. Many aircraft have a double latch, and they both must be engaged or the door will come open. In my Bonanza door experience, the top latch popped open about an hour into the flight. Fortunately it was in Florida on a nice day with only 20 minutes to our destination. The bottom latch held, but it was breezy and noisy. Passenger had closed the door—now I always close it unless it’s a Bonanza passenger who knows what will happen, but I still verify.
The second instance was shortly after door maintenance: It closed properly but popped after two hours as we entered the traffic pattern (won’t go back to that shop!). No problem: Just fly and do not drop the aircraft to attempt closing the door, because closing is not an option. They open doors in flight test knowing that it’s bound to happen. While inconvenient and sometimes somewhat expensive, production aircraft will be completely controllable.
The A36 aft utility doors are a different matter. There is an annunciator light directly in front of the pilot to remind us that a door(s) may be departing the aircraft if not latched. Again, the aircraft will fly just fine, and A36s without aft doors are regularly used as photo platforms. But located on the aft cabin wall, where you probably wouldn’t notice it:
When utility doors are removed–No smoking, all loose objects must be secured. Personnel not secured in seat by safety belts must wear parachutes
“Excuse me Captain, I seem to have set the back of the airplane on fire…was just having a little smoke…” or “My prized anvil collection just went overboard—can we go back and get it?” or “Has anybody seen your mother-in-law lately? She was here just a minute ago.” Kidding aside, there must be some sad history to this placard. Seems like this would be obvious but…
Fuel selectors fall into the “basket of snakes” category for me. Handle them very carefully because engines get fussy when not fed.
Position selector in detents only–No fuel flow between detents
This placard is placed directly on the selector, so if you went to the trouble of reading it presumably you’d know to put the pointer in a detent. Just reaching down and moving the handle is not a good idea, but then you wouldn’t see the placard. Hmmmm.
Left–Right & Off not in same positions on all Bonanzas
Those fun-loving Beech engineers are always changing things up. Again, this goes to knowing your aircraft. “Your honor, my client crashed because—well—he put the fuel selector where he always positioned it. It was a different airplane but the blinking engine just stopped—how was he to know that ‘OFF’ wasn’t the right tank?”
Fuel selectors should command your undivided attention. That means LOOK even though you’ve moved them a thousand times.
We could go on for much longer but here’s a final reminder:
Shoulder harness must be worn at pilot positions for Takeoff and Landing. Seat back must not be in full back position
The first part of this is a reminder of what’s in the regulation. If the aircraft is so equipped, you’re smart and legal to wear the harness. As for the second part—any flight operation would be by braille as the pilot would be staring at the ceiling of the aircraft. There either was an idiot who tried it or the attorneys just think we’re idiots. Either way, it’s not a vote of confidence.
Any good placards on your aircraft you’d like to share?