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Sunday, April 22, 2012

I want my Baby Back.....

It's annual inspection time.  Once every 12 months, a privately owned aircraft in the United States must under go a detailed safety inspection, just like a car in most states.

Of course, it's a much more detailed and lengthy inspection, especially for an aircraft that the shop you choose hasn't seen before and has no history with.  That's the case with my Bonanza, which has been laid up in the hangar for 3 weeks and counting.  All the insides are outside, it's up on jacks so that the shop can test the retractable gear, and all the spark plugs are out (all 12).  The shop also has to check and make sure that all applicable FAA Airworthiness Directives (ADs) have been met, which can take some time on a 45 year old airplane.

Commercial aircraft undergo a similar check, but since they fly more, they must be inspected every 100 hours of flight.  I've flown my Bonanza nearly 80 hours since last April when I bought it - slightly higher than the average private airplane, but not much.  Airliners typically have A, B and C checks - the C check happens on the ramp and takes very little time.  The A check means putting it in a hangar for a week or two, and stripping it down, often replacing engines and other major assemblies.

The annual is also time to take care of those niggling "squawks" that you list as the year goes on - internal lights that won't work and can't be fixed simply, small brake fluid or fuel or oil leaks, things not big enough to warrant immediate attention, but that need to be fixed.  So my airplane has been "out of service" for for 22 days and counting.  Thank goodness I'm instructing, or I would have been grounded for almost a month.

But I want my baby back........

5 comments:

Chris said...

I understand your pain, just having had my ship in for its annual inspection (though, admittedly, not for nearly so long).

I have to wonder about the relevance of comparing aircraft annuals to state-mandated car inspections. Six years ago, I moved from a state that did not have them (MI) to one that did (NY). Already being accustomed to annual inspections for aircraft, I assumed that the fundamental process would be similar. During my first car inspection, I asked the mechanic if I could see the checklist used for the inspection. He looked at me like I was crazy. They don't use one.

I did, however, discover one specific detail later on. A "brake inspection" involves an in depth probe of one wheel with the assumption that it is representative of the other four. Hmmm...

I have tremendous confidence in the careful inspections conducted each year on my airplane. I have also derived great value from participating in those inspections. The car inspection? I think it's little more than a revenue stream for the state (at least in this state).

Best wishes for getting your bird back in the air soon.

D.B. said...

In Texas, they do use a computerized, standard checklist for car inspections, all done on line. The shop has to electronically sign it, and can be held liable for sloppy work.

Chris said...

D.B.: Nice! If you're going to go through the effort, you might as well make it a value-added proposition!

TJ Shembekar said...

So when did u get it back???

D.B. said...

I got it back last weekend, although minus the Garmin 430W (burned up in the hangar - smoke!) and with a few squawks (leaking strut). But since it has a log book entry, it's "airworthy"........