Flightradar24 Blog

Making Sure an Aircraft is Ready to Fly

Two airplanes undergo maintenance

Making Sure an Aircraft is Ready to Fly

Share this article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

We often get questions when a plane seems to be flying in a strange pattern and going nowhere. Often times these are either training flights or test flights after maintenance. Airliner maintenance is a lot more than just changing tires and checking fluid levels—though there is a lot of that. We took a look through the JetPhotos catalog and also dug up some great videos to look into what happens when an airplane goes into the hangar for maintenance.

A United Airlines 777-200ER performing a test flight after maintenance.
A United Airlines 777-200ER performing a test flight after maintenance.

There are multiple levels of maintenance for aircraft, all involving different amounts of complexity and time. Aircraft are regularly checked in between flights and overnight. They also receive more extensive checks that can keep an aircraft out of service for days, weeks, or over a month.

Maintenance on a Lufthansa 747-400
Maintenance on a Lufthansa 747-400

The two more involved maintenance visits are commonly known as C and D Checks. A C Check can keep an aircraft out of service for up to two weeks, while a D Check removes an aircraft from service for up to a month. For practical purposes, many airlines also group smaller maintenance tasks that would normally be performed in one larger check into packages to ensure the aircraft is not out of service for such a long period of time.

C Check

A TAM Airlines Airbus A330 undergoing maintenance.
A TAM Airlines Airbus A330 undergoing maintenance.

A C Check is an extensive procedure that disassembles many parts of the aircraft, including the cabin interior. The following time lapse video shows a A British Airways Airbus A319 (G-EUOG) undergoing a C Check in Glasgow.

 

D Check

An even more extensive check is the D Check or Heavy Maintenance Visit (HMV), which occurs only every 6-12 years. D Checks essentially take the entire airplane apart, examine it, repair any necessary issues, and put the plane back together. These checks are often timed with extensive interior upgrades or aircraft repainting to minimize the amount of time the aircraft spends out of service.

A KLM 747 (PH-BFI) with its cabin removed, undergoing heavy maintenance.
A KLM 747 (PH-BFI) with its cabin removed, undergoing heavy maintenance.

The following video follows a British Airways maintenance team as they perform a D Check on “Victor X-ray”, a Boeing 747-400, registered G-CIVX. All heavy maintenance on British Airways 747 and 777 aircraft is performed at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (BAMC) and flights by large British Airways aircraft between London and Cardiff are routine. For a good idea of which aircraft are currently receiving maintenance, visit the On Ground page for Cardiff Airport.

Post-Maintenance Flights

After major maintenance is performed on an aircraft, airlines generally perform a test flight without passengers to ensure that all systems are functioning properly. There are a few ways to track these on Flightradar24. Post-maintenance test flights can often be noted by a “T” or “P” appended to the flight number. Other airlines, such as British Airways, make use of the 9000 block of flight numbers to perform maintenance flights.

All maintenance is essential, but some maintenance checks—like this 747 escape slide test—can more fun than others.

The escape slides on a Bahrain 747 are tested during a maintenance check.
The escape slides on a Bahrain 747 are tested during a maintenance check.

 

 

Featured Image by La Roche Spotters

Get the latest aviation news delivered to you

Get the latest aviation news delivered to you

Flight tracking and aviation industry news direct to your inbox

Aviation news comes quickly, so join more than 600,000 others who receive weekly aviation industry and flight tracking news from Flightradar24 direct to their inbox.

Share this article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Useful flight tracking glossary

View our glossary of terms which you may encounter either on our site or in aviation in general that we hope enriches your flight tracking experience.

About Flightradar24

Flightradar24 is a global flight tracking service that provides you with real-time information about thousands of aircraft around the world.
Latest video
Get weekly updates on Flightradar24 and have the latest aviation news land in your inbox.

How flight tracking works

Flightradar24 combines data from several data sources including ADS-B, MLAT and radar data.
Search the blog
Trending articles
Follow us
Latest AvTalk Podcasts
Related news

Help to grow our flight tracking coverage

We are continually looking to improve our flight tracking and the airports below are where new receivers will add the most coverage. Apply for a receiver today and if accepted you’ll receiver a free Flightradar24 Business Subscription.

Free ADS-B Receiver
Most wanted global airports
Try the full Flightradar24 experience free for 7 days
Remove ads and unlock over 50 additional features

Get the Flightradar24 Aviation newsletter

Flight tracking and aviation industry news direct to your inbox

Aviation news comes quickly, so we want to bring more of the aviation world to you with our weekly Flightradar24 aviation newsletter - On The Radar.