Friday, April 29, 2011

The Five Words That Strike Terror Into the Heart of an Aircraft Owner

"The annual inspection is due."

This is an event that aircraft owners shorten to "annual". It could also be called an "IRAN" for "inspect and repair as necessary", but it is more than that. Depending on the airframe, engine and propeller, there may be periodic detailed inspections, maintenance or even replacement of components. Virtually every production aircraft and engine has inspection guides as to what needs to be looked at, lubricated, or replaced.

The work is done by an airframe & powerplant mechanic, or "A&P". The inspection is done (or at least signed off) by an A&P who has inspection authorization (A&P-IA).

Experimental aircraft do not receive annuals, they receive "condition inspections". The difference is that there is more latitude on what should be done. Condition inspections can be done not only by an A&P, but also by the person who built the aircraft. (The builder receives a repairman authorization that is good for only that aircraft.)

Annuals can run the gamut from paper-pushing exercises to extremely detailed rebuilds. If you own a piston-engined airplane, a bad thing to do is to take it to a shop that does a lot of work on turbine-powered airplanes, as their view of what is a reasonable cost and your view will differ.

One of the biggest cons in the aircraft dealing racket are the words "fresh annual", for it means nothing. I've seen mechanically sound airplanes that, from the exterior, look like flying bales of scrap. I've seen very pretty looking airplanes that were sold with a "fresh annual" and which needed five figures' worth of repair work soon afterwards. Caveat emptor rules in buying aircraft.

So far, one of the mufflers needed to be rebuilt. That was sent off by surface freight, I'm not in a hurry as to justify shipping big metal parts by second day air.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Narco: Wonderful.
Just Frelling Wonderful.

Narco Avionics has gone out of business.

Speaking as the owner of an airplane with all Narco radios, I sure as hell hope that somebody takes over the repair side of their business.