Once again it's time for N631S's Annual Inspection. Last year the Annual was 'signed off' early in April so this year's inspection could have started as late as April 30. But I am otherwise engaged next weekend and the oil is nearly due for changing so this seemed like a good time to turn the airplane over to Three Wing Flying Services for about two weeks.
Actually, I've asked that they target Thursday,March 29th as the completion date. That will let me get a test flight in and have the next day, Friday, available for resolving any lingering 'squawks' prior to an IFR flight back to the DC area.
There's an administrative change in how the work package is being managed this year and I think it's a good one. As I've noted before (for example, here), the Annual Inspection is neither more nor less than is specified in Appendix D to Title 14 CFR 43. Usually, however, there are a number of maintenance actions that get accomplished in conjunction with the inspection but that are charged for separately. Three Wing has chosen to offer a "Flat Rate Package" encompassing the Annual Inspection and the associated Maintenance items for one fixed price. I looked at the proposal and compared it with the actual costs of N631S's last three Annuals, and concluded that the Package was reasonable and fair.
So, we've agreed that items beyond the inspection, estimated to require 13.9 man-hours, will be part of the Flat-rate Package. These include the engine compression check, the oil change, and servicing of spark plugs, magnetos, flight controls, landing gear and wheel bearings. Assorted filters and screens will be cleaned and serviced, the prop will be dressed and painted and the ELT will be inspected. Add the estimated 17 hours for the actual Annual Inspection, and the package totals 30.9 labor hours. At a shop rate of $86/hour that means I've spent $2,657.40 before any emergent work items revealed by the inspection are addressed. (I think I already know about a couple of those, to be discussed in coming posts.)
If all went according to plan, today Mike the IA did the maintenance run-up, checked the cylinder compressions, and started to open up the airframe. More on all that tomorrow.