Opinions please

Opinions please

My IA is just finishing the annual on my 1967 C150G that I bought last November. The 2007 annual had just been done the week before I bought it. I also paid a mechanic to do a pre buy inspection.

The short story is that my annual costs thus far exceed $7,000.00 with things like control cables rusted through with only one strand holding them. Control pulley hardware rusted so tightly that the pulleys were not turning and a rear bulkhead that was supposed to have been replaced by a mandatory SB but had been stop drilled for cracks instead..this bulkhead holds the vertical stabilizer to the aircraft and could have failed at any time,also pulley cable guards broken and not working...that is just a minor sampling of the life threatening defects found that could not have occured in the one year I have owned the plane.

Obviously the IA who signed the plane off for the past three years had done no inspection of the aircraft at all and had just signed it off with all the obvious defects.....a blind man could have seen them and I wish I had done a better job of looking the plane over but like a dummy I trusted the IA sign off.

So...my question is this..do I report this to the FAA and have them investigate this guy before he kills someone or just eat the cost and chalk it up to experience? I would appreciate your opinions.
Reece

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I think the first person I would go after is the mechanic that did the pre-buy inspection.  You could report the IA to the FAA.  I don't know what kind of enforcement action they would take, but the mechanic that did your pre-buy is the one that should have caught and reported these problems to you before you purchased the airplane. 

Your experience is similar to the first C-150 I purchased, but the airplane was being used for spare parts to keep another C-150 flying, and I only paid $4500 for it so I knew it would take some work.  I also had to do all new cables and pulleys, but also had a lot of corrosion, electrical, and fuel system issues I wasn't aware of.  It was another $6000 to make it airworthy and get is annualled, but $10,500 for a 1974 C-150 with 4500 hours and 700 SMOH was a real deal.

After all the work I did feel like I had a real nice airplane, which I flew for about 5 years and then sold to buy a 172.  As far as I know that C-150 is still flying (N65986).  Last time I checked it was registered to someone in Oklahoma. The one consolation is that you probably have a pretty nice 1967 C-150 now that will keep going for years and will require little else to keep it airworthy.

jplaxton00
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It’s a personal thing for me dating back to my academy cadet days, but my policy has always been to first confront the person who transgresses me and see if they’ll fess up and make the situation right, and if they deny it or refuse to make it right, then I hit them with everything I can. 

In your situation, I’d recommend you go back to the mechanic who did the pre-buy and see if he will admit that he did a less than adequate job.  Confront him with the evidence and documentation of each discrepancy which he could not have reasonably missed and seek an explanation.  At the least, based on what you have said, I think you should be entitled to a refund of whatever your pre-buy inspection cost you.  At most, he should agree to cover all or part of the costs of the things he overlooked or ignored.  After all, if he had done his job, you would have gotten the seller to fix the items or maybe you would have walked away and purchased a different plane.

As for the IA, I think you have an obligation once again to confront this person first, but because safety is a big concern here, you should also strongly consider contacting officials at your FAA regional office to make a report.  When someone becomes an IA and takes pilots’ money to perform a safety inspection function, and then flagrantly ignores one’s duties, there must be consequences.   Plus, if this IA did it on your plane, on how many other planes has this happened as well? I mean you have to expect that there may be some unsuspecting owners out there who have had this IA skip out on their planes as well. 

Your situation is a real shame.  As a pilot you should have been able to rely on these people to look out for you.  But not all mechanics and IAs are bad, most are excellent and have tremendous pride in what they do.  For those who do not strive to achieve these ideas, you have every right to confront them and bring the oversight function of the FAA to bear for your protection and the protection of others. 

Just my two cents worth – take it or leave it.

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I have a similar story, although it was on my already owned aircraft, and I did file a complaint with the FAA.  I'm also suing the mechanic for the money I had to pay a GOOD mechanic to fix the problems he caused on top of it. I did give him the opportunity to make it right however I had no faith in his abilities at this point and he ignored phone calls.

The aviation community is small but I have no sympathy for those who might cause the death of another person...

my .02

Gary

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I would fully document the discrepant items with a good digital camera BEFORE corrective action is taken. The FAA will be a lot more receptive with documented evidence. I have been in this situation far too many times and after a call to the FAA they gladly came out and documented the discrepancies. Unfortunately, most of the time the Feds can only put a letter in the IA's file. They used to take legal action but due to budget constraints not any more. As far as law suits go it is another waste of time as most small shops will just disappear or file bankruptcy. I feel for you, I have a hard time calling a customer with an expensive list of unairworthy items after the airplane has been considered airworthy by a substandard IA. Keep ahold of this IA he sounds like a good one, they are getting harder and harder to find.

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Thank you all for your opinions. In reality, I am soon to be the proud owner of the most airworthy 1967 Cessna 150 on the planet. After I personally overhauled the engine and my IA has fixed every possible problem on the plane I should have very cheap annuals for as long as I own the plane. In total, I will still have less than $25,000.00 in the plane after I do a complete remodel of the interior and in todays market that is still a cheap airplane.

As for the mechanics involved, I don't think I stand a chance of ever collecting a penny but I will report the IA and the pre buy mechanic to the FAA. I have good photos of all the bad parts and unauthorized fixes and I saved all the parts for them.

I intend to keep this little plane as it is perfect for my wife and me so I have convinced myself that it is a good investment :-).......

Actually, I blame myself more than anyone else for failing to look the plane over more closely after I bought it. However, I think all pilots have a responsibility to each other to stop this sort of fraud so I will work with the FAA so they at least will be aware of this guy.

Thanks again, I do appreciate your input.
Reece

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People like the previous "annual" IA, and the "pre-buy" mechanic give the rest of us a bad name. The term "pre buy" is not defined. I can be as simple as a 5 minute logbook review, or a full annual. I would suggest a contract between the principles, where the buyer pays for an annual inspection, & the seller pays to clear the airworthiness discrepancies. There needs to be common ground on the definition of airworthiness. (Some would argue deteriorated engine baffling is not an airworthiness item, I disagree) Such nuances would not have been an issue with your purchase. But, the horse is out of the barn. There must be consequences of some sort for these people. I would have the current inspector send a letter, with pictures, detailing the AIRWORTHINESS items,to your FSDO. Don't burden them with full ashtrays & torn upholstery. I would enclose a copy of the last maintenance release.If your new guy won't put his name on it, he's part of the problem.

I would also put the discrepancy pictures in a scrapbook, along with a picture of the sorry IA, and his maintenance release, and show it, at every opportunity, to anyone who will look. Word of mouth will help put an end to this kind of stuff.

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I completely agree with Charles Taylor. There is no set "pre-buy" inspection. The mechanic that performed the pre-buy is not bound by any FAR's for a violation because he didn't return the aircraft to service or make an airworthiness determination. As an IA I would ask the buyer what items he wanted me to inspect. If he asked my opinion I would suggest an annual inspection (he paid for the inspection and consumables, the seller paid for fixing unairworthy items). Unairworthy is a 2-part definition...in a condition for safe operation and conforms to its type design or modified (STC/field approval) type design. That said, make a formal complaint to the FAA about the previous IA. They will pursue the complaint with 2 possible outcomes....either no further action or they investigate for violations. Meanwhile....do whatever it takes to keep your present IA....sounds like a good one!

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Finding a good IA is priceless. Most I have known have had different levels of competence, but a minute minority have had dangerous attitudes. Anyone, mechanic, IA, or PIC who would pencil whip the necessary maintenance, inspections, etc., need to be reported. What we do is only as dangerous as we make it. GA NEEDS a solid reputation in these trying times. Report it for the satisfaction that you have done your part to keep our passion safe and above reproach, regardless of any action or inaction the FAA may take. $25,000.00 for the worlds most airworthy C-150 is still a good deal, but if you can recoup your above and beyond expenses, do so. Good luck.

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