An Annual Tradition Begins…

Owning an airplane is an adventure that comes with a handful of regulatory requirements. One such requirement is the annual inspection.

As the term “annual” suggests, an airplane must be inspected by an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanic every twelve months to ensure the machine is airworthy in accordance with its original Type Certificate and any Supplementary Type Certificates (STCs). Once these extremely thorough inspections are completed, the aircraft’s logbooks must be signed off by an A&P with Inspection Authorization (A&P/IA) before the airplane may be returned to service.

N8ML, my 1972 Piper Cherokee 180 (PA28-180), was due for annual inspection in May 2013, so I made arrangements with my local mechanic to start the process on Friday, May 10. Last Friday night, as planned, I took her up and accomplished 4 takeoffs and landings (3 touch-and-go) to heat up her engine to normal operating temperature. After the 4th landing, I immediately taxied to the maintenance hangar. The mechanic and I quickly maneuvered N8ML into the hangar, removed her upper engine cowling, and conducted a compression leak-down test. She passed with flying colors: 77/80, 77/80, 75/80, 75/80. So far, so good!

This is the first annual inspection I have ever been involved with as an aircraft owner, and I am a bit anxious. I have heard a great many horror stories about the dreaded “$10k annual inspection,” but I think I have done enough homework and research at this point that I don’t expect to endure such a nightmare. My hope is that she will be done with her annual by the end of next week and ready for another year of dependable service.

More to come… until then, blue skies!


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