I get periodically asked to informally look at a plane for somebody, pre-buy.
Usually it takes less than 1 minute to spot really obvious signs that the plane has not been lubricated in years - if ever.
Today I saw one with a virtually seized prop RPM control. The weather-exposed governor linkage was practically dry, and the prop RPM lever was so stiff that in my view the cable would snap if it got any worse. Yet people fly these things...
This kind of thing is not a showstopper but if the really visible stuff has been totally neglected, it's a fair bet the stuff under the covers have never been done either. So one is perhaps looking at a bill of some thousands for replacing knackered control linkages.
Given the difference in maintenance regimes between EASA and FAA and the permitted pilot involvement (under IA supervision), have you noticed a difference in aircraft condition by reg?
The worst I have seen were G-regs. But really I think any plane where the owner has just handed it to a company to do everything is at a high risk.
The weird thing is that I would expect somebody doing a "quick job" to stick a big dollop of grease on the readily visible bits (without necessarily getting any inside the bearing surfaces) to make a good impression. But most don't even bother to do that.
BTW I don't think that dismantling any control linkages (including things like the RPM cable) is within pilot privileges. Putting oil into places (anywhere) is ok, and I believe you are allowed to remove any inspection covers for that, but oil is not really the way to do it if you are doing it just once a year, because even if you start with a brand new "perfect" plane, the oil won't last the year. Oil might be OK, in airflow- and rain-protected areas, if reapplied every few month or so.
But really I think any plane where the owner has just handed it to a company to do everything is at a high risk.
This is the fundamental. I have spent the past six months, undoing, fixing, and wondering where do I go from here, having given my aeroplane to Part M, EASA maintenance companies. I honestly think if I had towed it to the nearest Kwik Fit, the boys would have done a better job.
On another internet forum, you get the Part M boys, whining about how the industry is NOT, full of cowboys, but in my experience, 99.5% of them are. A quick wipe, a dollop of oil, a dollop of Polyfilla, and off you go, with the 5k invoice tucked under your arm. Unless you as the owner/pilot, then take it back to your home base, pull it apart again, to check they have actually done what they said, then you are on a hiding. Complain to the CAA, well, as owner, operator, you are responsible. Move to the FAA regime, you are dodging safety issues to maintain your aeroplane on the cheap.
By in large, the whole scene is a sham, a serious sham, with companies, struggling to make ends meet, struggling to employ a skill base that actually knows what it is doing, struggling with an overburdened bureaucratic nightmare, and the end loser, is always the owner.
I am about to take legal action against one of them, not for financial recompense, to put the clod in jail.
I have just heard that - contrary to what I said earlier - one can maintain an EASA-reg plane in a "freelance" arrangement.
You need an EASA 66 qualified engineer to do the work and he can work totally freelance.
He then needs a friendly arrangement with an EASA Part M business, who does the ARC. He can be a one man band too.
So it can be done with two people, the second of which doesn't actually need to do any of the work.
I am just reporting; I don't understand how it works!
Peter: one can maintain an EASA-reg plane in a "freelance" arrangement
I asked a few weeks ago about maintaining EASA-registered aircraft in a state other than the state of registry. I asked around elsewhere and someone told me that they did exactly this.
An engineer in the UK does the work and a Part-M organisation in the aircraft's state of registry (another EASA member state) does the ARC paperwork.
I initially doubted the veracity of the information, so didn't post it here.
Move to the FAA regime, you are dodging safety issues to maintain your aeroplane on the cheap.
What makes you say that?
I think (I hope!) that was tongue in cheek...
But a lot of people in the business will say that with a straight face.
Peter is correct, it was tongue in cheek.
But....., it was said to me in an e mail, from a CAA local inspector, that I was doing precisely that.
Complained to Gatwick, but got me nowhere.
The way I see it is that there are different prejudices at different levels in the CAA, and probably all big organisations like that. It's human nature.
What actually matters is the overall "company" policy.
An individual CAA inspector has no say in Part 91 maintenance. He can ground an unsafe aircraft, but Part 91 itself is IAW ICAO requirements - no different to EASA Part M.
At the top level, cooler heads have always prevailed and the CAA has been pro N-reg. They (and the DfT) have done nothing AFAIK to interfere in properly conducted FAA Part 91 ops in the UK, which is why the UK has one of the healthiest N-reg / IFR communities. The DfT "owns" the "aerial work in N-regs" ANO article and they offer training permissions freely.
The CAA has occasionally busted some FAA-oriented training ops from which all four wheels came off, and we've all read about those. I have personally visited some of them and trained there, years ago, and I thought it was only a matter of time before the wheels came off.
I do wish the CAA busted some dodgy maintenance and component overhaul outfits, but I guess they have support at the bottom level; when a CAA inspector visits, he must be acutely aware that the £20k/year or whatever which this company pays the CAA is paying his wages.