A few helpful hints
By Joe Escobar
You have recently received your FAA Inspector Authorization. If the FAA inspector that signed your certificate was anything like mine was, he probably gave you a short pep talk when he handed you your certificate, discussing the importance and responsibility of being an IA. One of these responsibilities is performing annual inspections. This article will discuss a few topics concerning annual inspections with a focus on the engine area. Although it is not an exact, how-to article, it should shed some light on various issues concerning these inspections.
The first step in performing an annual, once the owner requests an inspection, is initiating a work order. A work order is a basic contract between you and the owner of the aircraft concerning the work that will be included in the inspection. It also serves as a record of parts and man-hours related to the inspection. Putting together a work order also gives the owner an opportunity to list any work he wants done in addition to the inspection. The owner should sign the work order before any work begins.
As far as price goes, you need to determine a price that you feel is fair. Since there is no set price for an annual inspection, and prices vary from region to region, you need to do a little research to determine the average price that is charged for an annual in your area. Charging a price much higher than the average may leave you twiddling your thumbs while others are turning business away. Remember though, that price is a subjective area and you may be able to charge slightly more if the quality of your services makes such a price fair.
Time to hit the books
Once you have a signed work order; research — the tedious part — begins. A good lookover of the aircraft logbook is a good place to begin. Reviewing the logbook gives you an overview of the aircraft configuration. It should also indicate any life-limited parts that need to be checked. A good logbook review will also show repetitive maintenance problems with the aircraft that may require special attention.
The Type Certificate (TC) data sheet needs to be referenced during the research phase. The TC provides information on engine, propeller, and appliance applicability along with other information pertinent to inspection.
Another research area is Airworthiness Directive (AD) verification. Check the logbook AD compliance sheet, if it has one. If there is not one, you should create one to make future inspections easier.
Researching all applicable AD’s can be a time consuming process. Check all applicable AD’s including airframe, powerplant, propeller, and appliance. The appliance AD’s are where you can get in trouble. With so many different appliances and serial numbers, it can be easy to miss an AD. The key is to take your time and be sure that you do thorough research. Remember that just because an AD has been previously signed off, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to verify compliance. Many times, especially when appliances are concerned, an AD may have been performed on an item that has since been changed out. Whenever possible, it is a good practice to do a quick check on all items to verify status. Of course, major disassembly is not necessary unless you have a good indication of non-compliance. Remember – once you sign off the logbook, it is your signature on the line.
Service letters and bulletins that are issued by the manufacturer are also important. Although compliance with these is not mandatory, they are often valuable in correcting unsatisfactory conditions that may exist. Remember, many service bulletins become AD’s, so it isn’t a bad practice to become familiar with those applicable to the aircraft you are working on.
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If a handwritten logbook entry is neat, well-organized, readable, and signed with pride, you can be confident that 99 times out of 100 the work performed is airworth