By: Eric Barnhill – MyAnnual.net
All of us aircraft owners must have our aircaft inspected at least once a year.
Who can perform that inspection? Well……The actual inspection can be performed by:
1- An A&P mechanic holding an Inspection Authorization(IA). (FAR 65.95).
2- A FAA Certificated Repair Station. (FAR 43.3(e).
3-The Manufacturer of the aircraft. (FAR 43.3(j).
The short answer, an A&P Mechanic with Inspection Authorization.
Do all A&P Mechanics have IA? NO, once you become a A&P, you have to operate as a aircraft mechanic for 3 years before you are eligible to take the test to become an IA.
Can all IA’s do an annual? Short answer is yes officially!
BUT! The level or expertise varies greatly!
There are some IA’s out there who do annuals out of the trunk of their cars that, (In my opinion) are not doing you any favors by doing a “Cheap” annual!
Questions to ask:
*May I see your IA card?
They should have it on them when they are exercising the privileges of an IA! Ask to see it! And make sure it is current, they have to be renewed every 2 years!
*How do you complete the Airworthiness Directives (AD) Research?
Part of every Annual Inspection is making sure that all of the AD’s have been complied with.
Did you notice I said ALL of the AD’s?
That’s right, it is the responsibility of the IA signing off your annual to make sure that ALL the AD’s have been complied with, back to when the aircraft (or part) was manufactured!
Just because someone in the past says that the AD’s have been complied with does not mean that they now are complied with!
Some AD’s are reoccurring at specific intervals (Hours, Months or Years).
What about the AD’s on a part that has been replaced (Mag, Vacuum pump, battery, flap, aileron, etc).
It is the responsibility of the IA signing off your Annual Inspection to ensure that ALL AD’s have been complied with!
This is where a subscription to an AD software program is essential, you put in the make model of the Aircraft, Engine, Propeller, or Accessory, (Magneto, Carburetor, Vacuum Pump, GPS, Propeller Governor, the list is long). And the software gives you a list of every AD that COULD be applicable. It is then the IA’s job to ensure that all of these AD’s have either been previously complied with (PCW), non applicable (NA), or complied with (CW). You can search the FAA database of AD’s but it is huge and no one is going to take the time to search every AD!
And then list the method of compliance, method of compliance is how compliance was achieved. If Previously Complied With (PCW), then list how it was complied with, (visual inspection, replaced a part, dye penetrant inspection, etc), then give the date and TACH time.
If Non Applicable (NA) then give why it is NA, (N/A by S/N, P/N, part not installed, etc).
Whenever I see an aircraft for the first time, I print this list out and research through the log books to see when and how AD’s have been complied with. It protects you and me since the IA who signs the annual inspection is certifying that all applicable AD’s have been complied with.
*How will we handle any problems that are encountered during the course of the Annual Inspection?
Make sure you both understand that you (the owner) need to be notified if any problems are found before they are corrected and agree who will fix them, who will purchase the parts (a 20% mark-up is customary for any parts purchased by the person, or shop doing the inspection) and what the labor rate will be for any repairs.
*What is the expected time frame of the work? I usually schedule about a week to do the annual, that way if there are any parts to be ordered or repairs done it can be handled in that time frame. You also don’t want your aircraft to be down for a month, because the IA is to busy to get to your aircraft. If the Annual Inspection will take longer that a week, will there be any storage fees, and under what circumstances will you (the owner) be responsible for those fees.
In short: Ask some questions, have an understanding and things will go much smoother for both you and your mechanic.