Now boarding – The quality checks for a safe flight

With globetrotters temporarily grounded the World over, it is inevitable that their Wanderlust is continually growing. A mini break to a European City. A sun-soaked holiday by the pool. A thrill-filled week in an American theme park. All a plane ride away.

With COVID-19 impacting air travel in 2020, flight numbers undoubtably dropped but according to, there were approximately 38.9 million flights worldwide in the year before, 2019.

Thirty Eight point Nine MILLION. 

As flyers, whether frequent or occasional, we don’t often think about the robust safety and quality checks required in the industry to ensure everything runs smoothly flight after flight.  We know the inflight safety information and that the exits are located here, here and here but what do we know about the quality assurance of the actual plane?

Qantas, an Australian airline, once said “It’s easy to forget when you board a modern jet aircraft that you’re stepping onto one of the most complex machines ever created.”

In the aviation industry, quality testing takes place continually during the life of an airplane including rigorous testing before an airline purchases them.  The video below gives a snapshot of the tests conducted before a plane becomes part of a commercial fleet.

For an active commercial airplane, robust maintenance and quality checks are a day to day essential to ensure it is safe to fly. 

Airplane quality checks include:

  • Routine pre and post flight checks including brakes, wheels, fluid levels etc – these checks occur before every take off and after every landing
  • The A(B)CD check system

A checks are conducted every 8-10 weeks (after 400-600 flights) and can take between 6-24 hours to complete.  Technicians check for damage of the aircraft, change filters, lubricate critical systems and inspect all emergency equipment.

B checks are now widely performed at the same time as an A check.  B checks include tasks such as checking alignment and the wheel well hydraulics.

C checks are typically referred to as heavy maintenance.  More expensive than A and B checks, a C check happens every 18 months to 2 years.  Taking up to 3 weeks to complete, C checks are a structural examination and in-depth lubrication of cables and fittings.

D checks, the most thorough check of them all, are conducted every 6-10 years involving complex inspections and repairs to the entire plane; the plane is essentially dismantled and put back together again!  Taking up to 6 weeks, D checks cost millions to conduct.

So what can we learn from the ongoing quality assurance of a commercial airplane?  Any quality assurance process, be it an A check for a plane or completing Quality 4 Health + Wellbeing, is for the safety and experience of its service users.  It’s about demonstrating high quality delivery and instilling confidence and trust in everyone who uses your service.  Like the aviation checks, Quality 4 Health + Wellbeing accredited organisations can perform ongoing ‘pre and post flight maintenance’ regularly to ensure service delivery hasn’t slipped.  Then, just like a jet-setting plane, a ‘C and D check’ when renewing their Quality 4 Health + Wellbeing accreditation!   


Local Authorities

We are currently working with a number of Local Authorities to support the development of the voluntary and community sector.  We are achieving this by helping to demonstrate the quality and outcomes for their services users and supporting organisations to be ready to deliver public sector contracts, such as social prescribing. We could also support Local Authorities to improve quality within your care home settings by offering a bespoke support package.

Contact us to find out more

Clinical Commissioning Groups

Quality For Health was developed in partnership with Calderdale CCG. We are working with a number of CCGs who are interested in quality assurance for voluntary and community organisations delivering health services, enabling them to demonstrate the difference their organisations make to services users and patients by delivering high quality services. CCGs may be interested to support their local voluntary and community sector and be more confident around commissioning and referrals through working with Quality For Health. Quality For Health can also support priorities laid out in the NHS Long Term Plan, such as social prescribing and supporting organisations delivering prevention, mental health and support for carers. 

Quality For Health can also be used as a useful tool in bringing partners together to develop Primary Care Networks.

Contact us to find out more