Your Mechanic May Have Just Cost You $5K-$10K
The Sale Killer!!!
What your mechanic may have cost you and you don’t even know it yet.
Did you get what you paid for? (Literally)
Over the last several years I have seen many logbook entries from mechanics. Over the last several weeks I have been involved with a buyer looking for a CT. This has given me a unique opportunity to really look at logbook entries and documentation or the lack of it I should say. Almost all the extremely poor entries have come from A&P’s and not usually RLSM-A’s. Funny the A&P’s with all the extra education all make fun of us lowly RLSM-A’s, but they are the ones that consistently under perform and poorly document a 100 hour or Annual Condition Inspection. These poor logbook entries and lack of documentation will cost you dearly when it comes time to sell. From what I have seen lately it will cost you owners $5K-$10 off the top all due to lack of documentation. These are legal records and need to be treated as such. This is one of the only ways you can show either someone did something to your plane or did not. When I was on the Fire Department as a Captain and a Medic and doing reports it was essential that everything done be included in that report. I have been to court many times and if it wasn’t in writing it wasn’t done and there is little you can do to save yourself. Cry all you want that it was done, but the jury doesn’t care. Three to four people have lost plane sales in the last several weeks due strictly to poor logbooks and documentation. Their prices are falling because of it. How do you know a service bulletin was done, a compression test or a simple carb balance was done? How does the next mechanic know what the other did or didn’t do? How do you know the mechanic found anything wrong or gave additional attention to anything or fixed a problem? If he didn’t log it you may still be flying and it still may be broken and you don’t know it because he didn’t follow the inspection sheets or enter it in the logbook. Good condition items of importance like hoses may be entered and every deficiency should be entered.
There is something wrong with every single plane brought in for a 100 hour or the Annual Condition Inspection and it is up to the mechanic to find it.
Show me a logbook entry from an A&P that says he didn’t find anything and I’ll show you a poor inspection and a very poor logbook entry. I just heard from one A&P and he said he doesn’t log compression test results unless they are under 70 psi residual pressure. WOW! Where is the log that shows any decline or trend or when it totally fails? How do you go back and ask him what the numbers were last year. You are supposed to use the Flight Design’s and Rotax’s check list that’s why they went to the trouble to make one up and it is supposed to be part of the legal documentation of that inspection. You should demand that these check list be followed and signed for your own protection and your pocketbook. You should then keep them with your logbook entries. It is your only recourse in case you need legal help because the mechanic did something wrong or didn’t do something he was supposed to do. It is your legal help with the court system, the FAA and the Insurance Company. When it comes time to sell would you want to buy something that had such poor records you can’t tell what was really done or not done. Or do you want the plane that has had a serial record of each inspection, oil change, plug change and SB, ect….
You may be getting what you pay for with some mechanics, so if the price is too good to be true maybe you should walk away. Like any profession there are good mechanics and bad. Some of the good A&P’s have gone through Rotax school, some have even gone through the RLSM school. Each one of my clients from day one gets his logbook documented in detail, an original Flight Design and a Rotax inspection sheet signed, a separate discrepancy list and all given to the owner/pilot. I make notes on the inspection sheets and sign each entry so I and the owner know I have done the work and I didn’t forget something. If a 100 hour or Annual Condition inspection was done in 4-6 hours you better look for another mechanic. It can’t be done. Those who have hung around while I work know it takes days to complete a proper inspection and the more things you find or the owner has you do it could be 3, 4 days, a week or more. I would say a mechanic that knows his way around a CT and the Rotax engine and doesn’t have, but a couple of minor things to fix will take 2-3 days for an easy one and maybe more if more problems exist. You are paying good money for your inspection you should get it the way you want it and it should be done.
You should demand that the Flight Design and Rotax inspection check list be followed and signed. The logbook needs to have a lot more than “I found this aircraft to be in a Safe Condition”. Protect yourself and have your mechanic perform to the level of competency you require and deserve.
Here are a couple of examples of what I see on a too regular basis:
This is an entry in the logbook for a 100 hr. inspection minus the A&P’s signature:
(Sorry about the image quality they were a pain to attach)
Here is the Annual Condition inspection for a Rotax engine minus the A&P’s signature:
Oh and I forgot, have them make entries legible so anyone can read them. If they can’t, printing them on a computer with a sticky label works wonders.
Here are a couple of samples that are better and your own A&P or RLSM-A may word it differently, but this gives you an idea of what a logbook entry should look like. You need to list all discrepancies and items of importance or under a continual SB. By the way the Light Sport Repairman is supposed to sign his title RLSM-A and not any other way for airplanes.
12-12-2009 502.3 hrs. TTSN Maintenance on NXXXX Engine serial # XXXXX Aircraft serial # XXXXX
In accordance with the Flight Design and Rotax maintenance manuals this aircraft was inspected for its 100/500 hr. and the Annual Condition Inspection at 502.3 hrs. Rotax gearbox friction torque is 360 in/lbs. Carbs mechanically and pneumatically synced. ELT batteries due in March 2015. The oil and oil filter were changed (3 qts. Aero Shell Sport Plus 4 10-40w oil and Rotax oil filter). Oil analysis done and results due back in 2-3 weeks. Valve covers were removed and the edges sanded until the irregularities were gone and the “O” rings replaced, valve covers had a slight oil ooze on bottom. Dynon D-120 and D-100 had software updated to 5.2 version from the 5.0 software version. Engine mount bolts through the firewall were loose due to settling of the new firewall blanket. These were re-torqued to 200 in/lbs. All coolant hose clamps were tightened. Fuel line nut on the right carb loose and tightened. Push to talk switch for the radio
on the pilot side was intermittent, replaced and tested. New NGK DCPR8E spark plugs installed and gapped at .024 for cold weather. Heat conducting paste applied. Compression test: #1 – 84/87, #2 - 84/87, #3 - 84/87, #4 - 84/87. Fuel flow test at the gasolator is within FD maint manual specs and screen cleaned. Engine run and idle set at 1800 +/- rpm, mag drop is approximately 80 rpm on each ignition position. Next inspection due at 600 hrs. or the Annual Condition Inspection before 12-31-2010. All SB’s and logs current. I certify that this aircraft has been inspected in accordance with an annual condition inspection / the 100 hr. check and was determined to be in condition for safe operation on 12-15- 2009.
John Doe RLSM-A LSA Cert. XXXXX issued 5-28-08
11-09-2009 696.6 hrs. TTSN Maintenance performed on NXXXX Engine serial # XXXX Aircraft serial # XXXXX
In accordance with the Flight Design and Rotax maintenance manuals this aircraft was inspected for its 700 hr. / 100 hr. inspection. Left lower engine mount starting to show signs of cracking. Check at 800 hr inspection. The exhaust system was inspected for cracking. Gasolator cleaned and fuel flow test conducted as per Flight Design maint manual and passed. Lubed all bell cranks and bearings. ELT tested and batteries replaced, expire March 2016. All hoses in engine compartment in good condition. Rotax gearbox friction torque is 435 in/lbs. Carbs mechanically and pneumatically synced. Engine run and idle set at 1800, mag drop is 70 rpm on each ignition position. Compression test done for differential: #1- 85/87, #2- 84/87, #3- 85/87, #4- 84/87 psi. New aluminum fuel filter and metal sweep fuel line tube installed as per FD SB-ASTM-CTSW-06 and FD compliance paperwork sent to FD. Oil cooler retaining nuts loose and tightened. Removed, cleaned and oiled K&N air filter. The Dynon D-100 and D-120 had 9 pin update cables
and plugs installed and the software was updated to 5.0 from 1.7 version. New fuel sight tubes installed. Installed a Rotax approved Tanis engine preheat system (model TAS100-52, serial #43322). Letter of Approval sent to FD. Installed FD approved front and main new Aero Classic tires. Front end wheel has shimmy. Replaced front end suspension alignment pin and took excess play out of dampeners to stop shimmy. Oil pressure sender remote mounted on the fire wall as per Rotax instructions and fire sleeved oil line. All SB’s and logs current. Next inspection due at 796 hrs. or the Annual Condition Inspection 11-30-2010. This aircraft was found to be in safe condition for operation and placed back in service 11-13-2009.
John Doe RLSM-A LSA Cert. # XXXXXXX issued 5-28-08
I hope this personal reflection on buyer beware and how logbook entries will affect you and follow you even after your plane may have been sold or purchased. I hope this article will prove useful to all my CT friends out there!
FLY SAFE AND FAR,