Aborted T/O due to no airspeed indication

edited September 2022 in Training

So this might not belong here, but as it relates to an "instrument", this is where I posted. Yesterday a club member aborted his take-off run in our 150G when the airspeed indicator failed to indicate anything. He advised tower (controlled airport, Class D) and exited the runway and taxied back to our tie-down. His previous pre-flight didn't see any issues with the pitot tube (it has a new cover), but we have had some heavy rains since the last flight and high humidity.

After re-inspecting the pitot tube for blockage, they (rated PPL and a CFI for training) tried again and all went well. Here's the issue. As told to me by the FSDO, the tower had to report the aborted take-off to the FSDO because it occurred on a controlled runway, and now the FSDO is requesting that we have some type of inspection documented in our logbook that the pitot / airspeed indicator system is airworthy. He even asked me to email him a photo of the entry. I'm not entirely sure of the reasoning behind it, but my understanding it's something along the lines of the PIC made a determination the aircraft is not airworthy due to the failed indication, but as an owner / operator we do not have the ability to later deem it airworthy. He stated if we could find something in the POH or Service manual for us to refer to as preventative maintenance which resolved the issue, then we could use that. Otherwise an A&P entry.

I'm hoping that simply documenting the pre-flight inspection in the POH would suffice. Appreciate any thoughts you might have.



  • Scott ShererScott Sherer COO Forum Moderator

    Hmmm. Interesting situation and I've never heard of this before but I don't doubt that it's legit. So why not take a few minutes of your A&P/IA's time and have him do a logbook entry? It obviously works now...

    Also, does the 150 have a pitot/static drain? Did you use it?

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Cessna Owners Organization Forum Moderator and Cessna Owners Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • We don't have a drain in the 150, nor even an alternate static source. The avionics shop on the field we've used in the past agreed to look at it, but unless they did some actual work, what would they write in the log? And the logical question they asked is why did this happen? This plane is flown at least weekly. The IA didn't think that condensation was the likely culprit, or this would be a more common occurrence. If it is debris that's moving about, it didn't leave the system and might possibly become an issue at another time. I haven't seen the results yet, but we agreed to let them remove and inspect the pitot tube, disconnect the line at the airspeed indicator and blow it out toward the pitot tube for any debris, and to clean the filter screen on the airspeed indicator where the line connects. They would then test it for leaks and check the function of the indicator. This is as written in the Cessna Service manual. It's all done now, when I speak with the mechanic later I'll post again if he found anything in the system. Thanks.

  • No debris found in the system, however our pitot heat wiring was questionable. And with cleaning and re-connecting everything it's good to know that we do not have any leaks. I sent a copy of the logbook entry to the FSDO as requested, and asked if he could better define the reasoning behind all of this, as we were very much unaware, and the tower at the field made no mention of this during the subsequent flight after the PIC re-checked the pitot tube.

  • It’s standard procedure for an FAA tower to report any rejected takeoff.

    I’ve attached an AOPA article below.


  • Thank you Mike for that link. That's exactly what I was looking for. IT's something I was not aware of, as a one year 200 hr PPL.

    Scott, I might propose that this entire thread be moved over to the Training forum, as that seems to be a more appropriate place for it now.

  • Scott ShererScott Sherer COO Forum Moderator

    Roger that!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Cessna Owners Organization Forum Moderator and Cessna Owners Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • As a final follow-up regarding our occurrence last week, I had a good discussion with our FSDO and how this issue needed to be resolved. Technically we were in violation since the PIC, after verifying the airspeed indicator worked, took the aircraft flying. And this is true whether it happened at any airfield, not just controlled. Due to the controlled field's reporting requirements, the FSDO was required to investigate what happened as described in the AOPA article that Mike linked previously.

    In our case, once the PIC saw that the there was no airspeed indication, he made a determination, consciously or not, that the airplane was unairworthy according to 91.7(b). And the issue that made it unairworthy - inop airspeed indicator as required by 91.205(b) - was not something that could be resolved by an owner / operator. Testing the function of the airspeed indicator, such by going back to the ramp, repeating the pre-flight inspection and then asking for a high-speed taxi run to verify operation, would not be a suitable resolution because the PIC does not have the ability to meet the requirements of 91.405(b).

    For 91.405(b) all we needed was a logbook entry from an A&P stating the aircraft is airworthy. Whether the A&P would require the full work inspection that we had done or not is completely up to the A&P. 

    All this happened at KILG with Phila FSDO, and the FSDO says it's fairly common both here and at KPNE. Sometimes the investigations can get hairy as some owners are unwilling or fearful of cooperating. After our discussion he sent a recommendation over to the FAAST team to see if there's interest in putting together a training on this topic.

    There has been no downside to my discussion with the FSDO, he was polite, informative and the investigation into our occurrence is now considered closed with no adverse actions against our pilot or the club.

  • You were not in violation. The aircraft was airworthy and after clearing water from the pitot tube it flew.

    FSDO gets it wrong. Often.

  • The Phila region FSDO we are involved with has put together a FAAST webinar based on our experience, if anyone is interested. Our PPL & CFI involved in the original incident were invited to be part of the presentation, but I do not know if they are participating.

    The presentation is titled:

    "Aircraft Owner and Operators Preventive Maintenance Legal Issues". EA17119386

    Topic: Aircraft Owner and Operators 'Preventive Maintenance' Legal and Regulatory Issues.


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