An annual inspection does not have to be a high cost, high frustration event. By including preventative maintenance, communication, and continuity into your maintenance practice, your inspection cost could be reduced. Below are six tips and tricks we recommend to keep your cost low.
1. Practice Preventative Maintenance
-If you do proper maintenance throughout the year, you won’t end up with a TON of extra, little items that have to be completed at the annual inspection. For example if you have an oil leak or a small avionics issue on your Bonanza, bring it in and get the squawks fixed.
2. Have a Times Sheet
-Know when costly items are due. This will give you a realistic expectation of what to expect at your next annual. For example, the 72 month landing gear inspection on a Beechcraft King Air is a high dollar inspection. However, it is scheduled maintenance and can be prepared for by looking ahead on your times sheet.
3. Space out costly items
-When dealing with timed items on your aircraft, it may not always pay to wait until the 11th hour to have them complied with. If you have a 10 year prop overhaul due on your Beechcraft Baron, the same time as the 500 hr mag inspection, and the 10 year fuel & oil hoses are due, make a plan to space them out over the course of several inspections to spread out the cost. Inversely, you may choose to do them all during one annual inspection, and consolidate your expenses. You’ll have one expensive event, but the others will be much lower in cost. Planning ahead and figuring out the right option for you is key.
4. Talk to your mechanic
-Discuss what your objectives for the annual are. Do you need this to be a slim annual year, or do you want everything fixed to perfection. Airworthiness items have to be complied with regardless; However, non safety concerns such as cosmetic items can be pushed back. Make a game plan so you are both on the same page.
5. Go Fly!
-This is by far the most enjoyable tip on the list, but it doesn’t make it any less important. It is well documented that the more you fly an airplane, the better condition the engine is going to stay in. So get out there and punch some holes in the clouds.
6. Have continuity in your maintenance
-By using the same mechanic shop a relationship is built, you get to know and trust your mechanic. Often the argument to this is the benefit gained by having a “fresh set of eyes.” While this is of some value, it could be argued that the benefit of developing trust with your mechanic and allowing them to build a relationship with both you and the aircraft far outweighs the alternative.
Of course, we know time is money. Some owner’s opt to keep their airplane flying as much as possible during the year, and come to terms with the idea of one big maintenance event every 12 months. The bottom line is, figure out what works for you and your budget, then communicate with your mechanic so you’re both on the same page.