Customers often ask if an owner-assisted annual is a good idea. Will I learn from it? Will I save money?
The answers are definitely “yes” and “it depends.”
The more you’re involved in the maintenance of our airplane, the more you’ll learn and the better you can manage your airplane between its visits to the shop. It will make you a smarter and safer pilot.
In the shop, you might save us some time by opening cowling and inspection panels, but remember it takes us time to look over your shoulder and answer your questions. We know what it will cost to inspect your airplane if you leave us alone to do our job. Your involvement can push the cost either up or down.
Whatever you do, you’ll be under our supervision. It’s the same as for a newly-hired mechanic. We’ll watch closely at first. Then as we learn their habits and capabilities, the oversight can gradually loosen.
We do four or five owner-assisted annuals a year, and they vary widely. We have a customer who is truly a student of his airplane. He comes with his airplane every year, he knows what he’s doing and he definitely saves money. On the other end of the scale, we have a partnership where all the partners participate. We spend a lot of time with them – actually more than we bill – and they spend more money than if they just stayed home. But they learn a lot in the process.
Sometimes an owner will show up at 8 a.m. the first day, gung-ho to dive in, but something comes up and he can’t stay. That’s OK, too. In the time he spends with us, he probably learns something more about his airplane and how to operate it more safely and economically.
As a customer, you’re always welcome in our shop. We won’t cut corners, but we’ll go to great lengths to work with you the way you want to work. If you’d like to discuss this, give me a call.
New in the Shop
Soon we’ll be offering dynamic propeller balancing. The equipment has arrived and we’re under way with training. The point is not just a smoother-running, quieter combination of engine and prop, but also one that’s longer-running and less prone to cracking. The job will take less than a day and cost about $300 for a piston engine and a bit more for a turbine.
With transponders now sending ADS-B-out, we’ve invested in new test equipment to certify them. We can do all the work required by FAR 91.411 and 91.413, the every-other year transponder, static and altimeter checks, in-house.
You might have noticed our new bright orange, egg-shaped GPU on the ramp. Any time an airplane – from the smallest to the largest at FCI – needs electric power on the ramp, the GPU (ground power unit) can provide it. Like a modern automobile, the new one is fully automated, so the line staff just has to press a button to operate. And with nothing for the operator to adjust, there’s much less room for error.