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Aircraft are marvels of modern technology, using a lot of specialised parts and equipment to do the very important job of staying in the air. Of course, as failure of any part could lead to potentially disastrous consequences, aircraft charter and management companies need to ensure that regular, thorough checks are carried out on their aircraft to ensure compliance with the highest safety standards and avoid any kind of accident. Qualified technicians and engineers carry out routine maintenance checks, and the entire overhaul cycle is broken into designated blocks, each of which has its own specific timeframe and cycle of checks to be carried out.
Most frequently operating aircraft undergo a brief daily check to ensure their airworthiness. This kind of cursory inspection does not go into too much detail, but involves a general check of the aircraft for any obvious signs of damage or malfunction. Things like fluid levels and emergency equipment are also checked for flaws. The daily check is the simplest inspection that an aircraft regularly undergoes.
An 'A' check is the next level of inspection, and is a process that usually takes place overnight approximately once every 500-800 flying hours. This check is more in-depth and can require the removal of certain access panels for inspection purposes. Apart from a fairly detailed visual inspection, certain tests are also carried out on various parts and systems of the plane.
A 'B' check occurs once every four to six months, and requires a period of between one and three days to complete. In many ways this checking phase is similar to the A check, but can require more extensive testing and inspection. Today, the B check is often removed from maintenance schedules, with its inspections being incorporated into other checking phases instead.
'C' and 'D' checks are considered to be heavy checks, with a thorough inspection of many parts of the aircraft being undertaken. For a C check, the full range of A and B inspections and tests are carried out in addition to a number of other procedures. This kind of check takes place approximately once every 15-21 hours. A D check is by far the most time-consuming, costly and comprehensive test of every aspect of the airplane's functioning that takes place every five years or so.