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Question: I am confused about the rules regarding preventative maintenance that pilots can perform on airplanes. I am a student pilot. In ground school we learned about 14 CFR 43 Appendix A, Part C that lists preventative maintenance that can be done legally, but the chief CFI of the flight school says under no circumstances can a student pilot touch an airplane with a tool. Is there a regulation I am missing?

Answer: According to the FAA, aircraft used by Part 141 pilot schools must be maintained under the same requirements as aircraft operated under Part 91. FAA regulations allow someone who does not hold a mechanic or repairman certificate to perform certain preventive maintenance under Part 91.

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The regulation you are referring to applies to a certificated pilot. That is a private pilot, sport pilot, or higher—a student pilot is not a certificated pilot, therefore the student pilot doing preventative maintenance on an aircraft would not be permitted. In addition, 14 CFR Part 43 notes that maintenance can only be done when the aircraft is not used under 14 CFR Part 121, 127, 129, or 135. If the flight school also uses the airplanes for charter operations (Part 135), that’s another reason you cannot touch them.

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