Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 Annual Inspection (vii)

For the last couple of years I've wound up the series of posts on the Annual Inspection with a look at the final invoice. You can look back at "what it cost and why" for 2010 and for 2009. Now, here's a rundown on 2011.

This year was a little more expensive than either of the past two, at a "gross" cost of $6,858.69. Because I pre-paid Three Wing for the Flat-Rate portion of the inspection I received a discount of $722.50. So my net cost for N631S's Annual was $6,273.36. By comparison the last two years have been in the neighborhood of $5,000.

The cost of the Flat-Rate annual (discounted), additional inspections and AD research totaled $1,057.90. (Without the discount it would have been $1,780.40.) The total for items that might be viewed as "normal maintenance" was $1,331.19. That includes changing the oil, timing the magnetos, servicing the tires, wheels and battery, cleaning or replacing assorted screens and filters, dressing the prop and servicing the spark plugs.

The spark plug item included $197.88 for six new Champion RHB32E massive-electrode plugs in the upper positions. The "screens and filters" work covers six items and consumed 3.5 hours of labor ($301 worth) and $73.86 in parts; a total of $374.86.

So inspections and maintenance set me back $2,389.09, Now we can talk about actually fixing things.

In order of descending cost, the items revealed by the inspection (or "squawked" by me) that required repair were:

  • $481.90 to install a servicable Pointer 3000 121.5 MHz ELT, replacing the one damaged by battery corrosion.
  • $451.05 to install a new Zeftronics R15V00 Rev A alternator controller.
  • $409.83 to replace the chafed right main gear brake line.
  • $388.46 to replace an assortment of deteriorated cowling shock mounts and Cleco fasteners.
  • $363.99 to replace the broken left main gear strut fairing.
  • $316.25 to apply CorrosionX to the wing, aft fuselage and empennage interiors.
  • $210.65 to replace a failed CHT probe.
  • $209.70 to replace the left main gear brake disk that was worn below serviceable limits.
Those repair items add up to $2,831.83. That include 13.9 hours of labor ($1,195.40 worth), the balance being for parts and shipping.

Additional to the foregoing there were $915.27 worth of minor repair items. You know the sort, "stop drilled crack"; "dressed prop blades"; "cleared cable chafe"; "replaced bolt". At a couple of tenths of an hour each they add up.

The total of Inspections & Maintenance ($2,389.09) plus Significant Repair Items ($2,831.83) plus Minor Repair Items ($915.27) added up to $6,136.19. Add in an Airport Use Fee of $137.17 and you get to the full net cost of $6,273.36.

As I've noted in the past, no one ever suggested that aviation was an inexpensive pastime. But I reflected this weekend, as I flew (as described in this post) from Connecticut to the DC area and back, that dealing with the vagaries of nature and ATC are quite enough to occupy the mind. I don't care to worry about the condition of the machine and so I regard maintenance dollars, thoughtfully expended, as a good investment.

I'd like to conclude with a few words of appreciation for the excellent fellow I've referred to as "Mike the IA". This year's Annual is the third one that Mike Gavaghan has done for me and N631S. Working with him has been a consistent pleasure. He is rigorous and knowledgeable, creative and pragmatic. Mike has always been patient with my occasionally naive questions and maintains his good nature despite my daily 0730 visits. He makes sure that I'm safe but is always conscious of the costs of work on aircraft and is willing to adopt lower-cost approaches when they're safe and legal.

The fact is that I will, and in fact do, trust my life to Mike. I recommend Mike and the rest of the great maintenance crew at Three Wing Flying Services to anyone who'll listen and I hope to work with him again next year.

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