Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Annual Inspection (VII)

Nobody ever claimed that flying GA aircraft is an inexpensive pastime. As posted on previously, N631S recently came out of annual at Three Wing Flying Services and the bill has arrived. As these things go, it isn't too bad -- all up, about $5,000.

Appendix D to Title 14 CFR 43 specifies exactly what your A&P-IA needs to inspect in an annual inspection. Most shops have a flat rate (varying with aircraft type) for the inspection and in the case of Three Wing they provide for 17 hours (at $85/hour) to perform this task on a Cessna 182. But there are a variety of additional work items that many people think of as "part of" the annual -- and they aren't! The annual is just what Part 43 says it is; no more and no less.

So a bunch of routine items get accounted for and charged separately, such as...

  • Inspect, clean, gap and rotate the spark plugs -- 1 hour
  • Check magneto timing -- 0.4 hour
  • Service and inspect filters -- 1.6 hours
  • Lubricate all flight controls -- 1.5 hours
  • Service tires, battery and brake reservoir -- 0.6 hour
  • Inspect, clean and lubricate landing gear and wheel bearings -- 2.6 hours

This brings us to 24.7 hours (plus $45 worth of parts). Then there's the oil change, which is another 1.5 hours and $115 in supplies, parts and consumables.

And then there are 3.3 hours to research and verify accomplishment of AD's (including three that just needed to be shown to be "NA").

It's probably more clear to think of the cost breaking down along these lines:

  • Annual inspection...$1,445
  • AD compliance check...$280
  • Annual maintenance...$700
  • Oil change...$260

That adds up to $2,685 before we actually "fix" anything! This time around the "fixing" went like this:

  • Service the ELT...$105
  • Repair a cylinder baffle and clear wire chafes...$170
  • Inspect and repair right magneto...$765
  • Replace expander boot in carb inlet air duct...$600
  • Repair cracks in plastic and fiberglass...$125
  • Miscellaneous minor repairs...$300

Add in about $300 for inspection of repair items and final runup and leak check, and, well, that's how it becomes a $5,000 affair.

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