Annual Inspection

Annual Inspection

<HTML>My first annual inspection.  What an ordeal!  We're being thorough, but also following the Cessna inspection list.  The plane is literally being turned inside out...and I'm helping.  What kind of experiences have others here had?  Does it make you cringe each time annual time rolls around???</HTML>

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<HTML>  I've found widely varying views about annuals.  One AI wanted to comply with AD's (the heater AD) that didn't even apply.  Another was ready to annual it after a one hour inspection, if I'd do a compression test too.

  If the fuel gauge is 1/4 off, is that a grounding deficiency?  What if the primer (which I never use) takes a lot of strength to pull in and out?  The flap indicator doesn't work?  The CHT doesn't work?  Radio dimmer doesn't dim for daytime?  Radio speaker is inop?  Hand mike missing?  Rear seat reclining latch is broken?

  You can see there is some discretion here.  One AI says you can weld the air intake box, another says it must be replaced.  Must you weigh it after a paint job, or is that just "nice"?

  In my experience I have found WIDELY differing opinions.

  I personally want the bare minimum in needed repairs, except for the engine.  I REALLY want the engine to work great.  Beyond that, I fix stuff along the way throughout the year (new tires, brake pads, fuel gasket seals, fix fiberglass, dress prop, etc...)

  Maybe you aren't asking the right question.  After the inspection, point blank ask the AI "what are the things I MUST fix to make the plane airworthy."  Not the list of everything that's wrong, just the MUST do.  The AI should complete the inspection and give you the results, not fix things along the way (unless you authorize it or it's minor, like a new filter). 

  You may get a different answer about the must do...but just like doctors, if you don't like one, get a second opinion...

Mark</HTML>

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<HTML>Steve, Naturally I was a bit apprehensive when it came time for my first annual 10 months after I purchased my 1961 172.  The trusted AI at my field did a thorough inspection and AD compliance check. This naturally took some extra research time. 
Since that time as I know my aircraft and do my own maintainance and stay on top of it.  There have been no surprizes at annual time.  If something unknown comes up !!!!! I am happy to find it before it escalates into a larger problem.</HTML>

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<HTML>I think we all go through that first annual syndrome. Did he do your prebuy/annual? And what was recomended at that time?

For some reason you had trust in this person. There are some things that can be put off. Pay now or pay later. However, after a while things can catch up with you. Many items are replaced through out the year or between your inspections. If it is done at annual time, looks like a large annual bill. If you are flying couple hundred hours between inpsections and saving all those things up YIKES, what do you expect? Some items may be calendar time and some may be tach hrs. time. The ANNUAL most likely was not that expensive.

A good I/A or A/P will take good care of your plane (he is of course in business to make money). He will also tell you up front what and when things should be replaced and/or repaired before doing any work. His signature goes on the bottom line. He keeps you safe you will be back.

Bill</HTML>

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<HTML>First off...this is a one year old Skyhawk SP.  I have 155 hours on the tach.  The annual we did consisted of complete adherence to the Cessna Service Manual inspection criteria...meaning we inspected EVERYTHING.  Was that excessive?  Obviously you don't expect to find discrepancies - widespread ones - on a new airplane, but I was OK with doing a complete inspection, just because it is so new, and I've flown it a lot.

The folks that inspected it would not sign off on a half-assed inspection.  They wouldn't look at it casually and declare it good.  This is a good thing, in my opinion, but for those who want a $500 job, not such a good thing.  I guess I'd like to hear more about how others here get by with less than a complete inspection.  Is it normal to do this?  Was I "overdoing" it?

As for ongoing maintenance, I change oil every 25 hours and take care of small items during those changes.  My pre- and post-flight inspections tell me where squawks are showing up....like a recent nose strut leak (fixed immediately).  As long as I can do so, I'll maintain this new airplane in factory (or better) condition.  It's a joy to open the hangar and see a gleaming airplane waiting to be flown, especially knowing that there are no surprises under the cowling that could have been found earlier just by being "aware".</HTML>

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<HTML>Steve

Good luck on your new plane.

There is nothing wrong with doing a thorough inspection even on a new plane. They can be subject to service difficulties and parts breakage, sometimes this happens just because they tried to implement something new. However, any of your service requirements may be still covered by your warranty. Figure a good inspection about 15 hrs.(open, inspect, close, including AD & SB compliance, and some tweeking). Just keep it in the Best condition to standards that you are most satisfied with and knowing you fly it and rely upon it. Factory condition may only be minimal.

Bill</HTML>

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<HTML>Id also like to suggest that you find an A&P that will let you assist in the inspection.Alot of the time,theyll be happy to let you pull covers,cowlings etc,and you will become more familiar with youre bird,and at the same time be able to defray some of the labor time expenses.
There are a wide range of comments concerning"Owner assisted Annuals',and some Mechanics will likely be wary of the help,but usually thats because it will cut into the profit margin.
I have a unique situation,my A&P/I/A,is a friend from High School,and his labor charge is usually a couple of hours flying the plane.

My 3 cents</HTML>

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<HTML>If your mechanic/shop refuses to let you participate in the annual, don't just arbitrarily condemn them for it.  The standard shop rate for an inspection in most cases covers only a certain amount of "off aircraft" time for the purpose  of researching logs, researching parts, telephoning suppliers, etc. 
If an owner wants to participate in the annual there are some valid considerations for the shop to think about. 
Do I want to assume liability for injury for a customer in my work area?
Do I want to deal with otherwise unauthorized persons in the shop area. (With no disrespect/suspicion of YOU of course, but think about the possibilities of personal items going AWOL with non-employees having access to customer's airplanes.  Do YOU want just any other person having access to YOUR aircraft while it's opened up for inspection, and maybe up on jacks?)
Do I want to "teach school" and accept the loss of the valuable time on an inspection that was "flat rated"?  (If your shop didn't give you a flat rate quote for the inspection, do YOU want to pay for more mechanic time to complete the job while you ask him to show you what he's looking inside the tail for?  If you're willing to pay extra for instruction, then are you willing to tell the shop that?  If I were a shop that quoted a 172 annual at $750, then I would have made that quote based upon the time my experience has told me it takes to look at the airplane.  If I have to stop and teach school to a customer looking over my shoulder then I just lost money while simultaneously being distracted from my work.)
I have an arrangement with my IA that includes my having my airplane up on jacks, wheels off and disassembled with bearings and bearings cleaned and out on newspaper for inspection, and the seats out, floor, bulkheads, covers, etc. all removed, and waiting for him in my private hangar.  We inspect, repair, replace, service, and re-assemble the aircraft together.  I get a better inspection than the average guy, because I've become more intimately involved with my airplane than he has.  But I don't necessarily get it any cheaper.  Typically I save only about 8 hours labor, but with local rates being about $25/hr in the customer's private hangar that saves me about $200.  (The rates at the shop's hangar vary between $40-$80, so it's about a $500 savings over the standard inspection.)
  Unless you have your own private hangar with your own liabilty insurance (if your airport requires it) and workmen's insurance (in case he's hurt on your site) you might not understand why a mechanic may be unwilling to perform an "owner-assisted" annual.  Unless the owner is truly experienced, knowlegeable and prepared with the proper tools and equipment (shop air? jacks?) the "assisted" part may be more trouble than an ordinary inspection.</HTML>

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<HTML>"...bearings and bearings..."- I meant to say "bearings and brakes".  Sorry. In a hurry.
  Another point an IA must consider is the time necessary to load up the tools, and travel to the customer's hangar site.  Sometimes that "travel time" is simply more loss of valuable time to an inspector, and another reason to dislike "owner assisted" annuals.</HTML>

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<HTML>George does have a valid point.Typically,my annuals are done at my buddys hangar,and the insurance situation is not a factor.</HTML>

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<HTML>  It's difficult for most of us to appreciate the fact that our "hobby" is not everyone else's.  Most mechanics and shops do this because it is their job!  In order for them to put bread on the table, and send their kids to school with clothes on, they must not give away their work product.
  Imagine this:  You are a computer programmer.  Someone has a computer hobby.  They come to you because their attempt at a home-developed website has some glitches.  They ask you to correct the glitches, but they want to participate in writing the code (desite the fact that their previous software development is part of the problem) and they want to help debug the program AND they expect you to come to their house ot do it AND give them a discount because they've "helped"! 
  Get the picture?</HTML>

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<HTML>Try owner assisted auto maintenance at your friendly auto repair shop or Dealer..  See how long it takes for them to escort you to the waiting room..If your lucky, you can watch through the glass.</HTML>

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<HTML>George,

I'm a little confused.........I agree with your post on 11/10 100%, however your post on 11/9 states that you get an annual in your private hangar for $25 per hour ? Why the discount ? Is your IA moonlighting or does he work out of the trunk of his car full time ? Either way, he's doing the airport that he's on an injustice. If he's moonlighting, he's cutting his own throat cause he'll loose his job when his employer finds out (as one of my employees did) If he's working out of his car, he's taking work away from the shop who supports, pays taxes, and rents space on the airport. If he has a shop on the airport, why give a discount when doing it in your hangar ? He still has to pay the same bills whether he's in his own hangar or yours. Not only that but it's much more inconvenient to work away from all of his own tools, equipment, and parts supply. The only work I do outside my shop is short jobs (1/2 hour) or aircraft that are broke down away from home. It just doesn't make sense for me to work outside the shop. As far as owner assisted annuals, I invite them as long as they are mechanically inclined and realize that they are getting charged while I am teaching them how to do things.

Will</HTML>

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<HTML>Dear Steve; You have a valid question about how annuals are done.  You seemed surprised that your plane was turned inside out. If you noticed there are several round inspection plates located in various places all over your plane. These are just what the name implies -- INSPECTION plates.  That is what your plane is in the shop for, an annual inspection, which usually is comprised of a 100 HR. inspection, by the A&P/IA, with special attention to any A.D.notes.  These are (part 39,subpart A-general,sec.39.3) FAA's airworthiness directives that are legally enfoceable rules that apply to the following products. Aircraft, Aircraft engines, propellers, and appliances. AMDT 39-9474,eff. 8/21/2002. This part 39 goes all the way to 39 subpart B sec.39.27. If your A/P is not familliar with these FAR's, he should be. There are different ADs issued for different reasons,for different airplanes.  Yes some of them make you wonder, Like the one on the lycoming O-320 oil pump gears,(Tripacers, Cherokee,140 etc.)  That one had every body in a tizzy over the interpretation of the A.D. but it was finally cleared up.After I had installed the new gears, per the owner's instructions (which I needn't have done had he waited until the inrepretion was cleared up)and a cost of 200.00 dollars to him for the new gears. In most cases your A/P is trying to work with you, but he still has his obligation to the FAA, who will pull his license if he doesn't conform to the regs. As George pointed out he is a guy working for a living, and he has to protect his source of income(ie his license) I don't mind owners doing what they can to help,as long as it is HELP, and not questioning every thing I do, like taking the plane apart to see what I need to see. If I am going to sign off the plane as airworthy. I want to be absolutely sure that it is, to the best of my ability, and so should the owner. As for owner/pilot what you can and can't do is published in FAR part43 sec 43.2 to sec 43.appendix A,and B and D. Appendix D lays out what is to be complied with for a 100 hr.and an annual inspection, per sec.D 43.1. Please every one, forgive me for being so long winded on this one, but airplane owners./pilots need to know that the maintenance,and upkeep,is,when you get right down to it the responsibility of the owner/pilot.Be sure your plane is safe and airworthy.  The life you save may be your own. Blue skies. Capn.Willy.</HTML>

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<HTML>Some great posts here.  As for my annual...I was fine with a complete inspection of EVERYTHING.  I participated, with the mechanic, at a fine, large FBO at our Class C airport.  I removed seats, inspection plates, muffler shroud, etc....under supervision.  I have participated to some degree in ALL the maintenance on my aircraft, and own my own service manual (which I use for research...not to do unauthorized owner maintenance!).  I'm getting to know my aircraft well, and my mechanic and his boss have no problem with me being "underfoot".  My participation saved us a fair amount of time during the annual, which was THOROUGH, to say the least.  Nothing was left undone...the annual adhered to the Cessna inspection manual to the letter.  I won't say it was all fun, because it wasn't - it was hard work.  On the other hand, I don't have any doubts about the airworthiness of my aircraft.  Seeing everything oneself is a hell of a lot more convincing than just getting a bill and a signoff.</HTML>

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<HTML>Hello, Will!
    My IA is retired from a long career working for an established shop with his own tools.  He likes to stay proficient and he enjoys working on airplanes, and like most A&P mechanics he never made enough money during his working career to retire comfortably, so he makes up for it by performing inspections at private airports in privately owned hangars, ...a task the big shops at the established airports will not usually consider.  (If performing a modification, most owners of private hangars would prefer their disassembled aircraft be in their OWN hangar rather than be miles away at a public airport where no control can be excersized over who visits the aircraft and open tool-boxes in the owner's absence.) 
  I live in a rural area far from the metropolitan airports and maintenance shops.  The closest airport to me is almost an hour's drive, and that shop used to get all my maintenance business.  Until they damaged my airplane, hid it from me, and charged me for the necessary labor and parts to correct their damage claiming "they found it that way." 
  The next closest airport is 45 miles away in Austin, where there is only one shop, they only like to work on jets, they won't schedule a light-plane inspection at all "due to their work schedule" and if a light-plane breaks down on that airport it will wait at the end of the line for repairs, and will pay $80/hr and Gulfstream jet-prices for simple hardware after waiting two days for the parts to come in.  (No aviation supply houses in Austin,...next closest places are Dallas/Houston/SanAntonio.)  If a light-plane breaks at some area outlying Austin, it's out of luck, unless the owner is lucky enough to know my IA or someone like him.  If that shop in Austin had some decent competition then airplane owners would be much better served in this area.  Not only would they have to hustle a little for business, but their rates would have to come down, and they'd have to improve their quality of work to stay in business,...instead of the lousy treatment and sorry work they presently turn out at their own leisure.
You stated, "If he's working out of his car, he's taking work away from the shop who supports, pays taxes, and rents space on the airport."  In my opinion that's called "competition".  It's still legal in this country. ;Þ</HTML>

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<HTML>Hi George; Good for you.I agree 100%.I do inspections for friends,and the parachute club airplane, as well.I too am retired from a long aviation career,and you never have enough money when you have an airplane to support.I don't feel i'm taking money,or taxes from the big guys. I'm helping the little guys to be able to own an airplane,and not go broke trying to keep it airworthy. I got on to your website yesterday. It is very interesting. I also saw your picture. I have often wondered what sort of fellow you were, you being so knowledgable about airplanes.A virtuall encyclopedia,so to speak.I pictured you as rather rotund,balding,with thick horn rim glasses.Instead, you are the picture of a sophisticated profesor.Well done on your website. Best regards. Willy Owens.</HTML>

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<HTML>I don't think George has to defend himself for finding good help and getting the job done the way he (the customer) wants it.  What a novel idea.

I don't understand why we owe a business at the airport our business.  They need to earn it like anyone else.  When I asked to get my radio looked at the avionics shop at the airport, they didn't even want to look at it unless I was going to replace all wires and install a Garmin 430.  I don't owe these people anything.

I'm an independent engineering contractor.  Business is business.  Should I stop asking for work because General Electric wants to charge twice the amount for the same work.  It's called capitalism.  Get use to it.  No one has more of right to business then someone else.  It's call equality and fairness.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Well at least I don't feel too strongly about this....</HTML>

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<HTML>George:

I believe in competition, and capitalism.  However, what is going on at this airport is neither, and I am not sure what you would call it.  The airport has a policy here that there is to be no free lancing of inspections or maintenance to be performed, unless it is your own airplane done by yourself.  Fortunately for me I am an IA and do my own annuals.  The airport doesnt want to take away work from the FBO's located on the airport, so they have put out this policy.  Is it enforcable? Read your aircraft hangar lease here and you could be tossed out if you violate this.  Maybe this can be called extortion!  Anyway, consider yourselves lucky if you are at an airport where you can bring in an independent mechanic or IA.

Sal</HTML>

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<HTML>Hi, Sal.  The FAA takes a dim view of airport policies that disrupt/prevent an owner from performing maintenance on his aircraft.  Any public airport that has rec'd federal money must comply with the FAA intent.  Perhaps the  airport policy you mention can be challenged on the basis of the "owner assisted" nature of maintenance.  It seems that would comply with the stipulation " unless it is your own airplane done by yourself".  Each situation is different, but I'll bet there's an attorney or two that have airplanes at that airport.  How about calling on them?</HTML>

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<HTML>Ha!  Willy!  One of the amazing things about the internet is that no one knows if the pic is really me or not! (grin)
  http://www.globalair.com is not my website actually.  It is one that I write a regular column for, owned by Jeff Carrithers of Louisville, Ky.
(The check for the kind remarks is in the mail.) ;Þ</HTML>

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<HTML>I guess I could've given a better shortcut to those articles. http:www.globalair.com/discussions/</HTML>

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<HTML>I assist with almost all the maintenance performed on my aircraft.  I this was not an option I would either not fly or build and experrmental aircraft. 
The airport officials here have attempted (without sucess to this point) to prevent owners from having their planes serviced in the hangers, and tried to stop the freelance flight instructors for trainin. If they ever succeed I will have to go elsewhere.

The information below is in resonse to Sal:

This is from the Airport Compliance Handbook which can be found at the following URL:

http://www2.faa.gov/arp/compliance/inde … nav=comply

The text below starts on page 10 of the handbook.

e. Restrictions on Self-Service.
(1) Any unreasonable restriction imposed on the owners or operators of aircraft
regarding the servicing of their own aircraft and equipment may be construed as a violation of this policy. Where no attempt has been made to perform such services for others, aircraft owners should be permitted to fuel, wash, repair, paint and otherwise take care of their own aircraft. A restriction which has the effect of diverting such business to a commercial operator amounts to an exclusive monopoly of an aeronautical activity contrary to law.

(2) Servicing one's own aircraft is not an aeronautical activity that can be preempted by the airport owner which elects to exercise the exclusive right to sell fuel. Quite apart from the prohibition against exclusive rights, the sponsor of an obligated airport is required to operate the airport for the use and benefit of the public on fair and reasonable terms. It may not, as a condition for the use of its airport, impose unreasonable requirements on aircraft operators to procure parts, supplies or services from specified sources. It can however, require the self-fueler, both individuals and operators, to pay the same fuel flowage fee as those operators on the airport who provide fueling services to the public. As long as the aircraft operators do not attempt to offer commodities or services to others, they have a right to furnish their own supplies and to do what is necessary to their aircraft in order to use the facilities of a public use airport.</HTML>

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<HTML>  I saw George's picture too!  Geez!  Looks like some Hitech CEO!  I'd expected better!  No leather helmet, goggles, scarf and leather boots?  Where's the gin bottle?  tongue

  How about it George?  For God's sake get a REAL picture...if you smile that nicely wearing a stuffed shirt and noose (no offense), I bet you'd have a grin a mile wide in a Waco or Stearman... tongue

  On a more (less?) important note, airport management that dreams up these restrictions chaps my hide.  When the sponsoring city accepts cash money and land grants from the feds, there are strings attached.  Sometimes they need a firm reminder that this cash may cease to flow if they act like prima donnas.

Mark</HTML>

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