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light aircraft maintenance

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light aircraft maintenance

Old 15th Mar 2014, 12:41
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Crawley
Age: 27
Posts: 14
light aircraft maintenance

Hi all,

I'm very new here so apologies if this is a silly question...

I understand that the for the most part, maintenance on aircraft requires a licence, but as a PPL arent you qualified to do, for example, 50hr checks/basic maintenance? If so, is anyone willing for me to tag along so I can gain a bit more knowledge/show me the ropes?

I'm recently qualified PPL based in the south east (trained at Redhill) and a flight simulator maintenance engineer at CAE. I'm a typical 'ive had a passion for aviation since i was a kid' guy and want to understand a bit more about the aircraft i'm flying... I thought here would be a good place to get some advice/pointers from you lovely aviators!

Any replies are very much appreciated,

DoItForTheThrill is offline  
Old 15th Mar 2014, 13:28
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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(after deciphering)

The one thing I can assure you is that your PPL will not change anything here: it is a license for a pilot, i.e. it allows you to steer an aircraft. It says nothing about maintenance or repair work.

There are certain jobs anybody may do, example wiping the windscreen. Perhaps you may even replace the fuse that was blown when your ladyship wanted to power her hairdryer from the cigar plug.

The exact limit of what you may do depends on the class of craft (much much more is possible on Permit to Fly craft) and on law and tradition in your country.
Jan Olieslagers is online now  
Old 15th Mar 2014, 13:47
  #3 (permalink)  
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The rules concerning pilot maintenance for EASA aircraft are laid out in Part M: details here
Prop swinger is online now  
Old 15th Mar 2014, 16:50
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Scotland
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I would recommend that you join the LAA then join your local "Strut/club". Find out who the resident LAA inspector/engineer is and ask him, I am quite sure you will be welcome. Depending on your relationship with your engineer, if you own a Permit aircraft you could well be allowed/encouraged to carry out virtually all of the maintenance under his supervision/guidance/sign-off.The average spam can or Permit aircraft is no more complex to maintain than a 1960s classic car.

If you rent club aircraft, maintained through CofA, Part M etc, you will not be allowed near it and you will learn nothing .

An example: a friend of mine in a syndicate of 8, a Cessna 152. Faulty oil temp gauge. Gauge replaced, (eventually) by local CofA maintenance outfit cost: ~800, shared between them.

My own (sole owner) Permit aircraft, vacuum gyro compass, (DI) not working.
Venturi tubes removed, all pipe work replaced, Venturi tubes stripped of paint, oil, muck, and repainted. Instrument removed from panel, air inlet filter found blocked, removed, cleaned, replaced. All reassembled. Test flown, all perfect.
Total cost: 16 including purchase of a mini pipe bender. All work done by me, checked & approved/signed off by my inspector.
Crash one is offline  
Old 15th Mar 2014, 17:08
  #5 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Crawley
Age: 27
Posts: 14
Thanks for the replies, looks like it isnt going to be as easy as I thought :S

To be honest im at the stage where im trying to involve myself in the general aviation community and I thought with my avioncs and maintenace skills ive learnt through CAE I could try through the maintenance side of GA...

Crash One, thank you for the LAA explination, quite a cost and leniancy difference! I'll have a look into it

DoItForTheThrill is offline  
Old 15th Mar 2014, 18:22
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
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You are welcome. Please also be advised that "leniency" may be but integrity is not in any way compromised by the different system. LAA inspectors work for their love of the job, they ask little more than their direct expenses, their reputation is important to them. If you speak to a CofA maintenance organisation you may hear all sorts of opinions regarding "non approved parts" fitted etc. our system works on the principle of "Fit for purpose" as well as "approved" depending on the function of the part. The system is a delegation to the LAA who then regulate with the approval of CAA. Engineers are all qualified CAA certified engineers. All work carried out has to be approved, checked & signed for, both by the person who actually did the work and the engineer.

So if I were to mention that the door handles on my a/c came from B&Q DIY store, the stainless steel exhaust was welded/repaired by an agricultural engineer/welder. Please don't be alarmed!!! The tyres came from a CAA approved source at ~1000 with paperwork.

Good luck.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 21:44
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Join Date: Dec 2001
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Get into microlights and you have lots of freedom for your own maintenance...some things just need a check over by an inspector when your done..very often at no cost.
magpienja is offline  
Old 15th Mar 2014, 21:59
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but as a PPL arent you qualified to do, for example, 50hr checks/basic maintenance?
The EASA document refer to Pilot-Owner - not just any PPL. You can only do it on your own plane. (or part-owned). You can't do it on someone else's plane.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 22:03
  #9 (permalink)  

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I felt I should step in here when I saw the word 'leniency' with regard LAA maintenance.

Leniency is far from what LAA maintenance is about. The standards are as high (if not higher) than C of A stuff, but just without the stupid overhead costs and rip-off prices.

I used to pay a company to keep my Cessnas flying and I paid them a fortune for routine stuff. Since then I've seen the light and have taken the LAA route. My maintenance standards are higher (really they are), I am involved in my maintenance and my costs are 85% less than what they were.

No brainer IMHO.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 23:19
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: UK
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Originally Posted by magpienja
Get into microlights and you have lots of freedom for your own maintenance...some things just need a check over by an inspector when your done..very often at no cost.
Not just microlights, the same applies to Group A aircraft on an LAA permit too.
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Old 15th Mar 2014, 23:46
  #11 (permalink)  
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Just be clear.

Whether you are LAA or CofA, you can work on your own aircraft as much as you feel comfortable. You only need to convince your LAA inspector or your engineer as to the quality of your work.

They have to sign it off (except for the pilot/owner bit) so they will want assurance you know what you are doing
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 00:28
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I would love to know the practical reality of that. It may be CAA legal practice but what about the practicality of asking your local Part M engineer to believe your capabilities and sign for them, thereby not getting the job himself?
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 08:44
  #13 (permalink)  
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It's strange that if you read the comments above when I am certifying an EASA aircraft with a license that took a lot of time and effort to get I am one of the ripoff scum using the EASA system to take advantage of the poor innocent aircraft owner.

Then I go and do the same job on an LAA aircraft I a wonderful person supporting light aircraft owners.

It would seem that first a lot of the comments above seem to think that I can live for free and do not deserve to make a living and also fail to understand that a large proportion of the maintenance costs are directly or indirectly a result of regulatory issues imposed by the authority's.

The fact of the matter is that a lot of the LAA flying is living on the back of EASA certified aviation by using an engineering and supply chain that simply would not otherwise be in place.

As for Quality control of LAA aircraft I think that some of you should have another think about this, I have been presented with more than a few appalling death traps that I am expected to certify ( for little more than expenses ) and then a bunch of abuse when I won't renew the permit on the said death trap .

It is only the experience training that most LAA inspectors have gained within the industry that keeps these death traps on the ground and protects the owners and general public from those who think that aircraft can be held together with sealing wax and string and even try to beg borrow and steal this because they won't part with a penny even on critical safety issues unless forced to do so.

The LAA system has my utter respect as do the inspectors who are in the front line when it comes to quality and flight safety issues.
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 09:10
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I wouldn't disagree with many of your comments.

However, my point was more along the lines of being able to buy identical (but not 'ticketed') parts under the LAA system is where there is a huge industry-wide rip-off going on. Two identical parts, from the same factory, and a C of A person has a to pay up to ten times more for theirs. For what?

I think there are also as many (using your terms) death traps on the C of A fleet as there are LAA fleet. I know of at least two maintenance firms who are happy to shut their hangar doors on an aircraft for 9 days, change the oil, clean the windscreen and then sign it off for anther year, all for the sum of 2,500.

Another one, not far from here who actively advertises as 'the cheapest place you'll get an annual'. That's hardly the kind of ethos the industry needs is it?! It's also doing nothing for the integrity of that side of the industry.

To be clear, I don't think maintenance firms are charging too much for their time. It's the cost of parts and paperwork that's got silly. I pay 90 per hour for a man to service my farm machinery, and he has only a fraction of the training that an aircraft engineer has. Sadly though, with aviation being mostly a hobby for SEP owners, it's highly cost sensitive. Tractors earn me money and I'm therefore prepared to pay the costs that are required to keep them working. SEP owners want everything for as little cost as possible, as there is no financial return from their investment.

My post last night was not berating maintenance firms; I just wouldn't want to be in your shoes and put up with the typical private GA SEP owner wanting something for nothing.
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 10:10
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The reason that parts without certification cost less is that you are waving your right to take the manufacturer to court in the event of failure as they are selling you the part on the grounds that it is to be used in an experimental aircraft and so you take full responsability for its use.

This vastly reduces the manufactures liability insurance bill.
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 11:28
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Thanks, I'm aware of that. All I was suggesting is that I think most non-commercial C of A type operators (ie private Cessna/Piper owners), given the choice, would be more than happy to save 75% of the cost of a new part by having one (identical) that didn't have a certificate of conformity.

I'm not suggesting that inferior or alternative manufacturer parts are used as substitutes, but there is a raft of identical hardware (made in the same factory) out there that can be sourced, albeit without the all-important 'yellow ticket'.

On the subject of alternative manufacturers, there are also lots of cases where it seems ludicrous that alternatives are not permitted too. Take interior plastics for example in a C172. It costs thousands to replace a whole set in an aircraft if one buys genuine Cessna ones, and one is obliged to do just that. However, other manufacturers churn them out for 20% of the cost and because they're not 'approved' on a C of A type, they can't be used. I'm not convinced that the aircraft in question is going to enter 'plummet mode' just because the panel and door trim plastic isn't genuine Cessna stock.

And the above example is a single one of hundreds that can be made.
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 12:28
  #17 (permalink)  
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You are now getting into the realms of PMA parts, there is no doubt that some manufactures are taking advantage of a dominant position to overprice parts, Cessna are becoming the worst at this. At one time Cessna parts were quite reasonable in price but of late the price has gone through the roof.

At the same time because of the economy's of scale company's are now producing PMA parts at half the Cessna cost and in some cases better quality.

The trouble with PMA parts is that some manufactures like McFarlane produce high quality parts and others like a well known cylinder manufacture produce junk.

As Monocock says some would be happy to fit parts with no paperwork, this is OK until some Far East sweat shop owner finds out he can make more money manufacturing aircraft control cables than he can making Breitling ripoffs....... Then the surviving family members of the unfortunate cheapscate who dies following a control failure will be asking why the CAA was not protecting them from poor quality parts.
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Old 16th Mar 2014, 17:40
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It seems to me the fundamental problem is the rules that are in place to ensure the safety and traceability for the exotic and special parts on large commercial aircraft are being mindlessly applied to small aircraft parts.

A perfect example is the electric aux fuel pump. The last one I saw replaced came with a big stack of paperwork and a hefty bill. But when you opened the box the instruction package thoughtfully provided details on how to install the pump in your boat, car, or home generator.

You could go on the web and order the exact same unit direct from the manufacturer for 1/5 the cost. The box still had its original manufacturers shrink wrap around it so nobody in the aviation supply chain that sourced and handled it ever looked at the pump, did any QA, etc etc , what you were paying for was only the paper to make it legal.

What makes me scared as the owner of a certified aircraft is that the, mostly USA based, light aircraft supply chain is going away fast. Decreasing demand coupled with an ever increasing regulatory burden is causing many of the companies that supply parts to get out of the business. Some popular types like the Piper Commanche, have parts that are now officially made of "unobtainium". Some of these aircraft are going to get grounded for extended periods of time or even for ever. because of the inability to obtain one crucial part.
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Old 17th Mar 2014, 14:15
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Then the surviving family members of the unfortunate cheapscate who dies following a control failure will be asking why the CAA was not protecting them from poor quality parts.
Fortunately, the thousands of LAA permit plane parts that continue to lack traceability,do not lack the ability to continue operating as part of said aircraft!
I have the greatest respect for your posts, A&C, but on this issue, I think you are somewhat misguided.
It would seem the LAA do a terrific "halfway house" job , between a totally unregulated market and the ludicrously over-regulated Cof A market.

(didn't help on the boeing battery fires, did it? )

How many crashes have been put down to parts-failure?....now, how many regulated Vs. unregulated parts.

I'd suggest the benifits are minute when set against the cost of compliance..Big Pistons' post is affirmation of this.

Some years back, i had a customer with a porsche...An electrical problem indicated a possible fuel-pump fault.....Owner appears some days later with a boxed "genuine Porche" fuel -pump at an eye-watering price..."but the waiting-area was lovely and free tea and coffee"

NO!- squire, you paid for it.....that is a Bosch fuel pump for your Bosch injection system...Had you gone t a Bosch agent, the same pump is 20% cheaper, retail....Had I ordered it, I'd have got it less 25%, so I could have charged you less labour to fit it!

Said guy was a qualified solicitor and I had to carefullyexplain that, the "specially sourced" Bosch pumps, could have been , for example, those that had no scratches on the paint. Performance parameters were laid down, so it could alsohave been those that showed the smallest deviation-level in the tolerances.

He realised that vanity and bits of paper had clouded his judgement.
No different from BP's scenario....A lit of money is made on this paper-trail and "insurance against liability" racket.

It will be interesting to see how UK GA develops , if ever the hurdles against night flight, instrument/ imc flight, instruction etc. are removed from the Permit fleet......Iguess there's a huge vested interest in keeping them, in order to artificially incentivise the continuance of the C ertified stuff.

But what would I know, just a cynical old sod who's seen a bit!
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Old 17th Mar 2014, 15:03
  #20 (permalink)  
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As an LAA inspector where do I draw the line when it comes to fitting a safety critical part to a permit aircraft ?

Do I fit an bolt for an unknown sorce ? Do I get that bolt magnafluxed to Check it ? Do I fit an aviation bolt with a release note ?.

Should the bolt fail and someone die which of these actions would a court see as not exercising the duty of care that as an LAA inspector ?

It seems to me that some on this forum don't spend money on quality assurance, and expect LAA inspectors to take the responsability for parts fitted for next to no financal reward.

I don't give a damm about the nif-naf & trivia bits of LAA aircraft but when it comes to the Quality control of critical parts there is only one standard for aircraft and that is the same for a Piper cub and a B747, it is just how we achive that quality assurance that may differ.
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