What You Can Do To Keep The Price Down on Your Annual Inspection

By Eric Barnhill – MyAnnual.net

In other words:

Check out your aircraft before you take it in for it’s Annual Inspection.

Here’s your checklist of things to check:

Tire wear and condition, you can replace tires and tubes, clean and pack the wheel bearings.

Check the condition of your brake pads, It does take a special tool to remove and fasten new pads on – you might want to leave the replacing of pads to your mechanic, but you can sure inspect them.

Check the fluid level in you brake master cylinders and replenishing if necessary. If you don’t have any brake fluid (usually 5606) you might want to leave this to the mechanic/IA.

Check all the lights, clean reflectors and/or replace bulbs.

Check out your spark plugs, if your plugs are worn enough to be replaced you can purchase and replace them yourself.

Check out your battery and battery box, service the battery with distilled water and clean (with baking soda) and paint the battery box (with acid proof paint) if you find any corrosion.

Clean the airframe (wash) and clean the windows.

Remember that your goal here is to make this inspection as maintenance free for your mechanic/IA as possible.

Work with your mechanic/IA and see if they will allow you to do a “Owner Assisted Annual Inspection”, this is where you “Open” the aircraft up – remove the interior, open all inspection panels and other fairings so all they have to do is inspect, and “Close” the panels and re-install the interior when they are done.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is considered to be simple or minor preservation operations and the replacement of small standard parts, not involving complex assembly operations. Allowed items of preventative maintenance are listed and limited to the items of 14 CFR part 43, appendix A(c).

Examples of Preventive Maintenance

The following examples of preventive maintenance are taken from 14 CFR Part 43, Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Rebuilding, and Alternation, which should be consulted for a more in-depth look at preventive maintenance a pilot can perform on an aircraft. Remember, preventive maintenance is limited to work that does not involve complex assembly operations and includes:

  • Removal, installation, and repair of landing gear tires and shock cords; servicing landing gear shock struts by adding oil, air, or both; servicing gear wheel bearings; replacing defective safety wiring or cotter keys; lubrication not requiring disassembly other than removal of nonstructural items such as cover plates, cowlings, and fairings; making simple fabric patches not requiring rib stitching or the removal of structural parts or control surfaces. In the case of balloons, the making of small fabric repairs to envelopes (as defined in, and in accordance with, the balloon manufacturer’s instructions) not requiring load tape repair or replacement.
  • Replenishing hydraulic fluid in the hydraulic reservoir; refinishing decorative coating of fuselage, balloon baskets, wings, tail group surfaces (excluding balanced control surfaces), fairings, cowlings, landing gear, cabin, or flight deck interior when removal or disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is not required; applying preservative or protective material to components where no disassembly of any primary structure or operating system is involved and where such coating is not prohibited or is not contrary to good practices; repairing upholstery and decorative furnishings of the cabin, flight deck, or balloon basket interior when the repair does not require disassembly.
  • Inspection and maintenance tasks prescribed and specifically identified as preventive maintenance in a primary category aircraft type certificate or supplemental type certificate holder’s approved special inspection and preventive maintenance program when accomplished on a primary category aircraft.
  • Updating self-contained, front instrument panel- mounted air traffic control (ATC) navigational software databases (excluding those of automatic flight control systems, transponders, and microwave frequency DME) only if no disassembly of the unit is required and pertinent instructions are provided; prior to the unit’s intended use, an operational check must be performed in accordance with applicable sections of 14 CFR part 91. Certificated pilots, excluding student pilots, sport pilots, and recreational pilots, may perform preventive maintenance on any aircraft that is owned or operated by them provided that aircraft is not used in air carrier service or 14 CFR part 121, 129, or 135. A pilot holding a sport pilot certificate may perform preventive maintenance on an aircraft owned or operated by that pilot if that aircraft is issued a special airworthiness certificate in the LSA category. (Sport pilots operating LSA should refer to 14 CFR part 65-107 for maintenance privileges.) 14 CFR part 43, appendix A, contains a list of the operations that are considered to be preventive maintenance.

Maintenance Entries

All pilots who maintain or perform preventive maintenance must make an entry in the maintenance record of the aircraft. The entry must include:

1. A description of the work, such as “changed oil (Shell Aero-50) at 2,345 hours.”

2. The date of completion of the work performed.

3. The entry of the pilot’s name,  signature, certificate number, and type of certificate held.

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