Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 Annual Inspection (viii)

And so, inevitably, the bill has arrived. And as in prior years (2011 here, 2010 here, 2009 here) we can separate it into a number of "chunks" to better understand where the money goes for an event like an Annual.

As discussed in the first post of this series, I agreed to a flat-rate payment of $2,657.40 covering the actual inspection of the aircraft and the basic preventive maintenance items that normally accompany it. We start from there.

Four work items added significant cost to this maintenance event. They were:

  • Replace right elevator and stabilizer tips; replace failing right elevator spar rivets. The labor expended on this set of tasks was 7.1 hours at $86.00/hr. or $610.60 total and the cost of parts (primarily the plastic tips) was $287.44. Total cost = $898.04.
  • Replace the muffler. Labor to disassemble the exhaust system, remove and replace the muffler, and reassemble, was 6.1 hours, $524.60. The new muffler's cost was $357.95. Total cost for the work item was $882.55.
  • Perform 500 hour service on both magnetos. The labor cost was 3 hours for each mag, or $516.00 for both. The right mag needed a new distributor block ($363.43); the left mag needed points ($52.95), a carbon brush ($6.54) and a capacitor ($143.34). Total for parts was $566.26 for both mags; total parts and labor for servicing both magnetos was $1,082.26.
  • Replace one worn seat roller housing. Labor of 0.7 hours, $60.20; cost of the part, $519.10. Total $579.30.
The total cost for these four items was $3,442.15. Adding this to the flat-rate package I'm up to $6,099.55.

Additionally, there were a number of items that added up to another significant cost element: Replace alternator noise-supression capacitor ($93.99); Restore damaged paint on engine mount ($111.80); Remediate main landing gear corrosion ($129.00); Replace the brake linings ($247.32); Research logs for AD compliance, etc. ($318.20). Total for these = $900.31. So far, up to $6,999.86.

An assortment of minor items (clear a chafe here, stop drill a crack there, etc.) added in aggregate $692.55. The running total is now $7,692.41.

Finally, adding the post-maintenance run-up, cost of oil, shop consumables, inbound freight charges for parts, and the Airport Use Fee – together $595.42 – gets us to the total cost of the maintenance activity: $8,287.83. In today's market and based on N631S's equipment and condition, I'd estimate that to be in the neighborhood of 7.5% of the value of the airplane. As an annual maintenance cost for a 35 year-old machine that's acceptable.


Cedarglen said...

Well Frank, as you know... operating an older airplane in safe condition is not inexpensive. It is all part of the flying budget: one can afford it or not. Parts are always expensive, labor rates are rightly high, but I suspect that some of the 'book hours' are excessive. Not much you can do about that and you DO want to keep your maintenance folks happy. Again, it is part of the annual operating costs. On the bright side, 631 is in full compliance with the various ADs and that you can fly with confidence, knowing that the mechanicals are in good order. You'll still do your due dilligence before every flight, but any found faults ought to be minimal. There are vary good reasons for calendar, time and cycle-related inspections and you just gave us a $7k list of important ones. Your detailed list is a very good example of why periodic (professional) inspections are required. Thanks!!

Frank Van Haste said...

You've broken the code, sir! We all need very badly for these maintenance operations to be at least decently profitable. Of course, no one should be unfairly treated, but there are consequences to being excessively flinty about costs. We really don't want all of our great mechanics to go off repairing Toyotas!

Thanks for stopping by...


Jeff said...

Hi Frank,

I have been following your blog for some time now. I recently reviewed your posts about your annual and also looked back at your reports from the last few years. Your annuals have all been very thorough and it seems that you address all your squawks accordingly. That being said, what you are paying seems to be excessive to me. The base annual price seems to be high and I was surprised that there was a separate line item for AD review at $318.20. If the same person has been maintaining your aircraft it shouldn't take more than an hour to review each year and in my opinion this should be covered in the $2600. Even at $100/hour this is still 26 hours and I believe the base inspection could easily be done in 20-25 hours. Another thing is the brake linings at $247. I'm guessing this includes labor as well as I replaced mine at annual for $55 for all 4. The wheels and bearings should come off at annual anyway and the linings are easily changed. It seems to me you are getting gouged. I think I'd be looking around a bit. I could understand the first annual being expensive but I would expect the costs to drop on in future years except to address something a bit bigger every few years.

Jeff Frey