If you're a proud aircraft owner and enjoy the freedom that comes with having an airplane at your disposal, you know that the flying fun, inevitably, must be balanced by its corresponding maintenance responsibility. Eleven months of the year, you can fly, fly, fly...but before the twelfth month has elapsed, regardless of the number of hours flown, you and your aircraft have to face the annual inspection. The annual's overall purpose is to verify your aircraft's airworthiness, and FAR Part 43, Appendix D describes the scope and detail of the inspection.
You cannot perform the annual inspection unless you are an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic who holds an Inspection Authorization rating (IA). But with the IA's consent and supervision, you can do any of the maintenance tasks. Make sure you both understand exactly what you will be doing and discuss when he will check your progress. It defeats the purpose if the IA has to re-do all of your work because you got ahead of him.
So what's involved? Maintenance tasks include changing the oil, replacing and inspecting the oil filter and cleaning the oil screen; removing, cleaning, and checking the spark plugs; and checking that the engine ignition timing meets specs. The intake air filter should be cleaned or replaced. Check that all engine primer lines are secure, and that the muffler and the cabin heat muff are free of leaks. Verify that the carburetor heat control works correctly. Make sure everything under the cowl is secure and operates properly.
Next is the airframe. The wheel bearings can be cleaned and greased; tubes and tires changed; and landing gear and brakes checked, serviced, and replaced if necessary. For retractable landing gear, the inspection requires a gear-retraction test and a check of the emergency gear-extension system. All flight control cables and pulleys should be checked for security, tension, and lubrication, as well as for signs of wear or damage. In addition, everything electrical should work without a hiccup.
Want more information? Give us a call, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) or read more about inspections online.
Answers to frequently asked questions about your AOPA membership
Q: I'm on automatic annual renewal, but I don't recall getting a membership card for some time now. When do you mail them out?
A: If you're on automatic annual renewal, your membership card is enclosed in your membership packet that is sent to you each year. If you usually toss that packet in a drawer for future reference, open it up and you should find your card inside. Members who aren't on automatic annual renewal receive their card for the upcoming year on their first renewal notice. Still can't find that card? Give us a call or send us an e-mail at Member Services using the contact information on the next page.
Q: I'm thinking about buying an aircraft. How can AOPA help me?
A: AOPA Member Products offers four aircraft ownership related products. The AOPA Aircraft Financing Program can get you qualified in minutes for an aircraft loan at competitive rates with long repayment terms. The AOPA Aircraft Insurance Agency can obtain quotes from multiple "A"-rated underwriters and provide you with the best advice and the right policy for your needs. AOPA Aircraft Title Services can provide you with essential lien information about the aircraft you plan on purchasing to help you avoid ownership challenges and can file your documents with the FAA. And the AOPA Legal Services Plan will review your purchasing documents and keep you protected while you're flying. For more information on any one of these AOPA Member Products, visit the Web site.
Q: When is the best time to call AOPA's toll-free number?
A: The call center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. The staff goes to lunch in shifts between noon to 2 p.m. (ET) daily, so we aren't able to cover as many phone lines during that period. Call before or after that time period to increase the chance that your call will go right through or minimize your hold time.
Member Services contact information:
Phone: 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672), from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern time) Monday through Friday
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: Update your information, renew your membership, and more by clicking on the Membership Services tab on the home page and then click "Manage My Membership Options" in the left column.