Do Your Own Walk-around
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 3 TERRANCE BAILEY
3-82nd General Support Aviation Battalion
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
There I was, working as a Black Hawk crew chief with a medevac team. It was a beautiful morning in eastern Iraq. The sun was just coming up as I headed to prepare my aircraft for first-up duty. I went out before the rest of the crew to take care of a few things and have the aircraft ready for the pilots to do their preflight.
As I finished my preflight check, I remembered I left something in my room. Since we were the only team of aircraft parked on a closed section of road, I decided to leave the covers open for the pilots. While I was inside, the rest of the crew arrived at the aircraft. As I made my way back, I realized they had started the auxiliary power unit, so I started running. When I arrived, the medic yelled that we had a mission.
As I ran around to my side, I glanced over the aircraft and the covers appeared closed. I hurriedly dressed in my flight gear as the main engines started. When the power to the engines was increased, both of the engine covers flopped open. Luckily, as we were shutting down so we could close the covers, the operations section called us to say the mission was canceled.
Once the aircraft was shut down, I climbed up and secured all of the panels. The crew then got together to talk about what happened. We came to realize there had been a lot of assumptions. The pilots had pushed the engine covers closed, assuming that when I got to the aircraft I would climb up and latch everything. When I ran up to the aircraft and, from a glance, saw the engine covers closed, I assumed someone else on the crew had secured everything. I hadn’t asked, they hadn’t said, but we each thought the other had secured the latches.
Ever since this incident, I’ve encouraged everyone crewing an aircraft to do their own walk-around. I prefer that at least both pilots complete a walk-around; not just looking at all the panels, but also putting their hands on each latch, ensuring they are positively secured. My main take away from this, however, was just because it looks like someone else did your job doesn’t mean it was done right.