Q: My IA only charges $400 for an Annual! Why are you so expensive?
A: I know there's a thriving industry of "tailgating" mechanics performing inspections and repairs for dirt cheap prices. In my experience you're getting what you pay for, if not less.
"But my guy does it so cheap! How does any of that benefit me? A logbook entry is a logbook entry."
Sorry, but I've been around long enough and seen more than my fair share of pencil-whipped annuals, and owners always end up paying the price for saving a few bucks. Too many times are inspections performed by "my guy" or even worse; "my friend." A signature is not an inspection. Pulling some panels and looking inside the wings is not an inspection. I've been in the unfortunate position more often than not explaining to an owner that a catastrophic squawk that has been ignored or missed for years could have been repaired cheaply had "my guy" been paying attention.
The reality is there's simply no way to perform a legitimate Annual Inspection in less than a day. Going through the logbooks and confirming the applicable AD's have been properly complied with often takes upwards of four hours alone! (I know a lot of owners are convinced their paperwork is complete, but the reality is the overwhelming amount of aircraft records I see aren't up to par.) Just completing the maintenance aspect of an Annual should take a minimum of a full work day.
While I don't offer "owner-assisted" Annuals, I do encourage owners to be involved in the maintenance of their aircraft. Over the years I've honed a system and a workflow that allow me to get the job completed as fast as possible. I've found that the cost savings in having an assistant has been negligible. Keep in mind that when I endorse the airworthiness of your aircraft that I'm also assuming liability for the work! It's important that I maintain control of quality. Having said that, I welcome owners to be present while I inspect their plane and I'm happy to answer questions along the way.
Most Annuals I perform will require a minimum 3 days of downtime for the inspection portion, and then we'll correct any discrepancies as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
For more info on what items are included in my annual inspections click here.