Chris Stevens

Aviation. Tech.

It's Annual Maintenance Time Again

Each year, aircraft owners enjoy at least a week of downtime for FAA-mandated “annual” maintenance.  People often ask me how I feel about flying a machine built in 1965.  I typically respond with something like: Imagine if we took your car apart once a year, looked into the engine, analyzed the oil for contaminants and metallics, and applied a list of manufacturer required maintenance and safety items from the previous year.  You would see cars that last longer, perform better, and are safer.  By that same token, the design lifespan for cars is short enough to almost negate this level of attention.

We had a bit of concern leading up to our first annual in 2010 since the previous owner had owned the aircraft since 1979.  There is no way to really know what a fresh set of eyes will turn up even though we had a very experience Mooney shop perform the pre-purchase inspection.  Those pre-purchase inspections aren’t required by any regulation, but I can’t imagine making a big purchase without one.

Our 2010 annual turned out just fine.  I helped do some of the easier chores like removing panels, landing gear doors, etc.  All this helped our mechanic (Tom) get through the process 1-2 days sooner.  Probably more importantly, I had a chance to look in, over, and around many deep and dark places originally assembled more than 46 years ago in Kerrville, Texas.

I’ll have some new pictures and more details about the process as our 2011 inspection kicks off in a few weeks.