There’s never a good time for something to break, especially in aviation. But things do break and airplanes do require care and service, so if there were a theoretical “good” time for something to go inoperative, surely it’s after completing a mission when there’s time to consider options and have any squawks dealt with in an appropriate manner. And even make alternate plans for the next trip if need be.
A great deal of time, effort and thought (appropriately so) is invested in the time-honored tradition of the pre-flight inspection. After all, the PIC does have the final say as to whether the flight will go. But…in the interest of convenience, safety, less headache and less disappointment, the best time to discover that your airplane needs attention is the lower stress environment of post-flight.
What’s new or different in a post-flight inspection? In terms of exterior inspection, it should be the same. You’ll want to use the same deliberate flow around the exterior of the aircraft checking for anomalies along the way.
In terms of interior inspection, while I’d hope we’re bringing back everything we left with, this would be a good time to take a look through the flight bag. Need any spare batteries? Flashlights in good order? Charts and/or databases current?
Consider a checklist for the post-flight duties. It will take just a moment to jot down the critical items you’d like to check before securing the aircraft and will ensure your next flight starts off on the right foot.
There’s nothing worse than a surprise during pre-flight that could have been caught at post-flight. Do yourself a big favor and get in the habit of good post-flight inspection.