annual

annual

<HTML>I just got a work sheet from the mechanics for my annual - six pages. I'm confused. I know these to be good people but how could so many descrepancies be missed last year? They faxed me a copy with the items checked which have absolute airworthiness implications. Nearly all pertain to the airframe. Among these are the cracks in the main wheel assemblies and the flap rollers (which have been working fine). Why are flap rollers involved? I can fly without flaps! Am I to believe all these descrepancies developed in one year? George?</HTML>

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Re: annual

<HTML>Hi, Jack!  Sorry to hear about it, but in reality, aren't you glad the problems were found?  What if one of those cracked flap rollers had decided to jam with the flaps full down while you were trying to make a go-around?
  In actual fact, an annual inspection is supposed to determine that the aircraft 1) meets the requirements of it's Type Certificate, and 2) is in airworthy condition. 
  What you seem to be expressing is disappointment and/or disagreement with the determination by the inspector that the aircraft is un-airworthy without expensive repairs (which you may believe unnecessary.)
  It's a simple solution.  1) You may get another opinion.  2) You may ask the inspector to defer the repairs you don't wish to perform (and he will have to give you a written list of those discrepancies).  Be aware that if you don't let him make the repairs he thinks necessary,  then he has no choice but to make your logbook entry without announcing the aircraft "airworthy" with approval "for return to service."  If you then actually return the aircraft to service without an A&P-AI's statement that "the aircraft is determined to be airworthy in accordance with an annual inspeciton", you will likely be in violation of FARs and will be assuming public liabilities that your insurance carrier will likely not cover you for.  You may also become liable for additional legal woes.
  The choice of an inspector and/or a repair station is an important one.  You should satisfy yourself BEFORE you authorize any work, that 1) the Inspector/Repair station/shop is Qualified, Equipped, Reputable, and Honest, 2) that their level of expertise is in keeping with the level you expect and which may be required, 3) that the work to be performed is described in writing and at what price (or rate).  You must make yourself available for regular consultation and take an interest in the progress of the work.  If you deliver the plane to them for an inspection, and then don't follow up until you think it's time to go flying, ...then you're setting yourself up for disappointment, and you're setting the shop up for failure to please you.  Without regular contact while the work is progressing, they cannot be blamed for taking whatever steps they deem necessary to meet the delivery date they promised.  This can be a recipie for disaster, if instead you were expecting an inexpensive solution to problems, and the availability date took back seat to costs in your mind.  Showing up at that point, with an airplane still apart and lots of money already spent, with more money necessary to make it fly, is bound to result in sticker-shock and tempers flaring.
  I suggest you go meet with them, and look at this as an opportunity to let them educate you as to why they feel this way about the airplane.  Be patient and calm while they explain it to you.   If you still don't think they are correct, then ask them for alternative solutions, including allowing a different mechanic to perform the repairs or a seperate evaluation.
  Remember, the shop feels bent over a barrel too.  From their viewpoint they may feel they're being asked to return an aircraft to service unethically or illegally, unless you both reach the point where you see the problem from the same side.
  Good luck.  And let us know how it turns out.</HTML>

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Re: annual

<HTML>While on this subject, consider this:  The aircraft was certified WITH flaps.  According to the FARs that means they have to work.  A promise by the pilot as to how he intends to operate the aircraft is not within the purview of either the FAA or the A&P-AI.  In fact, unless the flaps work, the aircraft does not meet it's type certificate.  To make that legal in the eyes of the FAA (and therefore in the eyes of the shop), you'd have to either get a Minimum Equipment List approved by the FAA, or you'd have to disable the flaps and get a STC approved by the FAA.  To get a STC for the aircraft, you'd have to re-determine the performance of the aircraft without flaps by actual flight testing.  (For example, all the takeoff, climb, and landing data will change.  Not to mention operational procedures, such as emergency descent checklist and performance which previously used the flaps, etc.)  This will require expensive flight testing by qualified flight-test engineers and pilots.  After you look into those options you will likely decide it's easier and cheaper to fix the cracked rollers.  (And you really did want them to work anyway.  Didn't you. ;Þ  )</HTML>

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<HTML>I certainly appreciate your advice. After some thought my gut feeling is these guys just are very thorough. As for my question about the flaps, I just wondered why they were listed among the essentials to airworthiness. For now I'm going to have them do the 20 items mandatory for sign off. Last year they priced the fuel shutoff valve for me and it was 1300$ new (c150)! They have some connections and were able to salvage one for about 120$. The wheel/brake assembly for both sides is going to be expensive and I asked about salvaged parts - they discouragd that. I still wonder that 60 discrepancies developed in a year. I like the performance and just look forward to a time when this type of stuff comes up less frequently so I can afford some cosmetic things.</HTML>

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<HTML>I assume they're referring to corroded wheel-brake cylinders.  The aluminum castings that house the piston have a tendency to corrode internally from water.  (Washing with high-pressure water does more damage to brakes, axles, and wheel bearings than most people realize.)  Once water gets inside the cylinder it causes pitting that cannot be fixed and the pits cut the o-ring on the brake piston and then the leaks start.  Not just leaks that you can see, but internal leaks that can prevent brake-pressure from holding also.  If you buy a salvage part, you're very likely to be wasting your money AND your even more expensive mechanic's time installing them, bleeding them, troubleshooting them, condemning them, removing them and then start all over.  Plus used parts have no warranty.  Which is more wasteful? Buying expensive parts?  Or buying junk?
  It's truly unlikely that 60 discrepancies developed in only one year.  (Did you buy this aircraft brand-new last year?)  More likely, the previous maintenance shop either didn't catch it, ignored it, or the previous owner didn't want to fix it and sold it.
  When I bought my last airplane, a '53 Cessna 170B, it was priced way above the current market values.   The seller had spent a lot of time and money restoring it to "new" condition.  But it was hard for most buyers to justify spending 25-30% more than the average 170B listed for, so it sat on the market a long time before I came along and bought it at asking price.  Why would I pay asking price?
  Because he'd truly "restored" it to "new"!  It had all new hardware.  All new wiring, and connectors. All new hoses AND plumbing AND connectors AND wheels AND brakes AND control cables AND control-cable pulleys AND bearings AND engine AND exhaust AND windshields/glass AND interior AND paint AND radios AND......you get the picture.  Will I have to be looking at replacing an exhaust tailpipe in the near future?  No.  Hoses? No. Brake assemblys? No. etc etc.  If I'd bought the average 170B like most of my friends in the type-club, then in only 2 or 3 years I'd have spent a lot more than I spent on my Oshkosh winner, AND it'd be down in the shop instead of out searching for a weekend hamburger with me and my friends.  My annual last year cost $150.15!  (Owner assisted, I opened it all up and closed it back up and repacked the wheel bearings myself.)  There are dozens of AD notes on this model aircraft/engine/accys' but they were all permanently done during the restoration because all the mags, generator, starter, etc were overhauled to latest mod status during the restoration.
  My friends thought I was overpaying for a 170 when I brought it home two years ago.  I admit I paid top dollar.  But their annuals are running $750-$1800/year and they're waiting for backordered parts while I'm out flying and spending only fuel/oil and insurance.  Right now I'm ahead of them.  But in ten years I fully expect to be spending repair dollars.
  I think what you  might be seeing on your airplane are the bills for previously deferred maintenance.  I've been there and done that on my previous two airplanes.  It got to where I felt constantly picked at.  And it's what made me decide to go ahead and pay top dollar for a top-notch airplane next time.
  The other side of the coin is that previously I wasn't in financial condition to allow me to be anything but parsimonious with my airplane-purchasing dollar.  After I spent about $50K fixing up my previous airplane, I was able to sell it and clear enough to get me into what I've got now, ....so I really can't complain.  I think the moral of the story is, ...flying isn't free,...it's expensive.  You can pay now, or you can pay later.  If you defer really important things 'til later, it can cost you.   A lot more than maybe you were willing to pay, than if you'd gone ahead and fixed it timely.  But taking really good care of a sound airplane has always paid off in the long run for me.  I've never lost money on a popular airplane model that I took care of, and I learned to enjoy the process of maintaining and improving it.  I consider that part of the pleasure now.</HTML>

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<HTML>I feel for you, Jack. I too have a C-150 that I bought for WAYYY under market value, and it had a ton of stuff wrong with it. It even had a current annual signed off in the aircraft logbook, and I flew it to an airport 60 miles away for the first annual since I bought it. It too had a 5-page list of stuff wrong. Flap rollers were one thing, and for example, the control cable tension (supposed to be around 35, I think) was only 5! There were AD's from 7 or 8 years previous that hadn't been complied with, yet it had a current annual. That's why I'm glad I took it to a different A&P at a different airport than the one that had been signing off annuals for the previous several years. Owning an airplane, even a 150, isn't cheap. Once you get the thorough annual, though, I bet the rest of them will be less expensive AND you'll feel better about flying around in a safer plane.</HTML>

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Re: annual

<HTML>In reading the above replies to the"annual"question I feel like I need to insert my 2 cents worth...After purchasing a"basket case"150,I became almost immediately introduced to the large list of required repairs ahead of me,everything from external Plastics,to replacing non standard screws,cowling repair,avionics replacement etc...not to mention the ADs that went back10 years or so...The Wife,and I did our homework,and assisted to a large degree,in the restoration of the plane,and have also assisted in any repairs that have been required.
This has been a learning experience for us(it has cost money)but the knowledge gained from our "hands on"experience has made us that much more comfortable in the fact that we know the plane like the back of our hand.
My suggestion for the future,is get to know youre airplane,keep up with what it needs,and fix it.Anticipation of problems in specific areas not typically paid attention to go a long way in preventitave maintenance,and almost assuredly lower annual inspection costs..</HTML>

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Re: annual

<HTML>Today I received a fax from the mechanic supposedly replying to a queston I had asked about number hours to do the repairs. In reality, I had asked him to give me an estimate of labor and parts for the items listed as airworthiness critical. He estimates 60 hours and I know the parts will cost more. Folks, this is the shop that did my annual last year for under $1000! Now am I to believe problems have developed to the point of requiring $3000 in labor plus parts?!!! I've gotten perfect performance form this aircraft for the past year...including the flaps!</HTML>

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Re: annual

<HTML>Jack,
Id sincerely suggest you get a second opinion..it sounds to me like either you have a new mechanic looking at the plane(thats trying to make his mark on the world)or if its not that case,I suspect last years annual was somewhat"pencil whipped"and things were indeed overlooked then,in which case you might have some slight chance of recourse woth the FBO.......In any event I suggest you have another shop look at it,and give an estimate on the annual,and DONT tell them what the other one found.......see if their estimates jive.It might cost you a few bucks,but may well save you a chunk in the long run.</HTML>

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<HTML>That's what I'm thinking and I will ask the FBO manager about last year. I don't know if the current mechanic was there last year. Thanks</HTML>

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<HTML>Don't forget that last year's mechanic may be in the position of having been found out as less than competent and may be anxious to not have his faults (if any) further exposed.  I think it's unlikely that a reputable shop would just dream up a bunch of extra work to perform.  Most shops these days have plenty of work and not enough time to do it, for them the try to create any more for themselves.  Not to mention that they are also hoping you'll be pleased with their ability to find discrepancies, get your authorzation, and then perform quality repairs.  After all, that IS what you hired them for and that IS why you had your airplane inspected, wasn't it?</HTML>

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<HTML>Thanks George. I visited the shop today and was impressed with the new mechanic's presentation and reasoning. It seems some of the discrepancies most certainly existed when I bought the plane.The simple trueth seems to be, there have been dubious sign offs in past including the one at pre-buy (not the shop I'm using now) two years ago when I got the seller to agree to pay all the annual except $350 as part of the purchase agreement. Had that deal been executed properly, I would have had a fantastic buy.

I hope someone will publish all this in book form or cd forthe sake of the discipline.</HTML>

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