Logbooks / Pre-Purchase / Annual Inspections

Logbooks:  Aircraft logbooks are important!  Don't get trapped into buying an airplane with incomplete or missing logs.  Besides being a problem for you when it comes time to sell, it is grounds for declaring the plane "unairworthy" by the FAA. Having a plane you can't fly is probably worse than not having one at all. Your insurance is null and void, even though you have paid the premiums.  Blah, Blah, Blah.  I'm sure you've heard it all before.  What do I think?  Well, it depends.

Would I buy a plane without logbooks? Hell yes I would, for the right plane at the right price.  Then, I'd do a thorough search of it's history on the FAA data base, find previous mechanic, talk to previous ownere, and then I'd do a very thorough annual inspection and hire a DAR to varify the work. 

Logbooks: In general, logbooks are TERRIBLE.  I mean, they tell me NOTHING about what has been done to the plane. Tach time, airframe times, or component times (if entered at all) are seldom correct. Sortiing through logbooks can take as much as a week; especially if a tach or engine was changed. 

Pre-Purchase Inspections:  I do Pre-Purchase inspections at Auburn Airport for $750 (2020 prices).  I can travel (when I have a plane or if it's in driving distance) to do a Pre-Purchase.  I charge for my time and expenses to get to your location and return to Auburn.  Pre-Purchase inspections typically take 5 hours.  Going though the logbooks takes the most time.  Logbooks, in general, are a sad commentary on the way mechanics do work and record it.  ADs, on Grummans, are pretty minimal.  STCs are something else.

Would I buy a plane without a Pre-Purchase? Yes, I would. But, then aI've been working on Grummans since 1984.  I can pretty much tell in a few minutes if the plane would be a keeper.  Do I recommend one. Depends. But, generally, I recommend a Pre-Purchase inspection.

Does a pre-purchase inspection catch everything? Not always. In the example above, the carb, alternator, and vacuum pump would likely have still failed. The mags, more specifically, the time on the mags, would have indicated the need for overhaul. The leaking brakes would definitely have been noticed. It's up to you to decide.  What is your risk tolerance?

Annual Inspections:  I have been doing annual inspections as AuCountry since 1991. I am still amazed at how many airplane owners fail to take basic care of their planes or go to mechanics that know what they're doing. The argument that it's just a plane and any mechanic can work on it is just WRONG.  Simple things like putting the wheel pant hardware back on "according to the maintenance manual" are lost on most A&Ps and IAs.  Wiring is my pet peeve.  Most wiring installations are generally just plain lazy.

Basic Annual Inspection:  The basic Annual Inspection takes about 16 to 20 hours and is 'Flat Rated' at $2000 (2020 dollars).  That includes the labor for an oil change with oil and filter (you pay for the oil or filter), clean and gap spark plugs, a 14 page checklist inspection, and a format for periodic inspections not required at each annual inspection.  Additonal work performed as a result of the annual inspection findings are billed at the shop rate of $135/hr. (2020 dollars).  Parts extra. 

Included in basic annual at extra cost:  I don't repack wheel bearings or service elevator trim or service several other items each year because most planes fly less than 100 hrs in a year.  Repacking wheel bearings and servicing elevator trim, lubing Power Flow Exhaust, and a number of other items are generally done biannually at the going shop rate.  The first annual will get everything checklist item completed, including wheel bearings, elevator and Power Flow inspection etc. 

The first annual is usually the most expensive.

Owner Assisted Annual:  On a case-by-case basis. I used to recommend that the owner participate in the annual. Why?  IF you looked at your invoice from your last annual, did you question the length of time something took to complete?  When I look at a previous invoice from a new customer's plane, hell, even I sometimes question the cost. I charge, by the hour, for the time it takes to do the owner assisted annual. Initially, this may cost you a lot more. But, as you gain knowledge and experience, the cost "may" go down dramatically.

Heads up:  These are MY airplanes. I let you use them during the year. 

I've fired more than one owner (along with their plane) because they just didn't take care of my plane.