Some Notes on Maintenance Access

November 2019

I'm *really* big on providing good maintenance access on aircraft.

You might think your workmanship is perfect, but in the life of your airplane, you're probably, at some point, going to have to access some rather difficult areas.

I've already written a piece about adding a large belly access panel, between the lower strings, running from the firewall to the Station 5 bulkhead.

But it's good for more than reaching the bottom of the cockpit from underneath the airplane.  It also gives you much easier access, even from above.  This picture shows how.

This picture was taken while I was installing the switch and wiring for ADS-B.  I've got the seat out an a sheet of plywood lying across the seat mounts, with my feet dangling out the bottom.  Yep.  Yabba-Dabba-Doo.

With my feet dangling out the bottom, it's a lot easier to lean forward and work in the tunnel area in front of Station 3.  Rather than having to work for a considerable time in a jackknifed position, I've got my feet sticking out the bottom of the airplane. There's no strain at all, when you do this...I can work happily for quite a while.

Note the green bench my feet are sitting on. This is actually how I get OUT of the airplane...I just stand up on this hassock, then (with the  aft turtledeck removed as well), all I have to do is lift myself high  enough to sit on the baggage shelf then step out of the airplane. MUCH  easier than the normal climb into and out of the airplane, and as I say, it's much easier to work in the forward fuselage.

This picture is a good lesson for all Fly Baby builders: MAINTENANCE ACCESS. It's hard to believe when you're gluing wood together, but you're probably going to have to go back and fiddle with stuff later. It's MUCH easier if you build-in good maintenance access.

The man that took this picture owns a light twin. He gave all the Fly Baby pieces scattered around the hangar an eye, then asked how long it'd be until I was flying again.

"One hour after finishing the ADS-B install," I told him, and his jaw dropped. He couldn't believe I could reassemble the airplane that quick. Two hours later, when I was done with the install...well, the actual time was 65 minutes. The single slowest operation was cranking the landing wire turnbuckle around to tighten it after loosening it to get the forward turtledeck off.

Ron Wanttaja