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Considering Leaving General Aviation


FlyWalt
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After ten years of of aircraft ownership, I am seriously considering pulling my support of this industry. Over the past 12 months I have had three visits to three different maintenance facilities. The increased prices combined with lack of parts availability is bad enough. However, when you add the the lack of labor in these shops, it has me truly worried about mistakes being made that will effect my aircraft and my family.

Furthermore, I have been blatantly RIPPED OFF by a used parts shop and a propeller shop in this past year by misrepresentations and lies. In both cases they are shops that I have done business with and used to trust.

I spend a lot of money every year, making sure that my aircraft is maintained up to the same standard that I enjoy at my airline job. It is simply necessary in my opinion. I do not carry squawks all year till annual time. I get everything fixed when it breaks. I keep my databases up and watch the expiration dates on required maintenance. But we have to have help from the shops that we are paying for vital services.

If the major organizations such as AOPA and EAA are not going to stand up and set a standard for the services that their members receive in the market then why should I be forced to do that job for them.

As things are now in General Aviation, it makes more sense and sanity to sell the airplane and rely on the airlines. Or even buy a share at NetJets or PlaneSense.

What Say you?

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32 minutes ago, FlyWalt said:

As things are now in General Aviation, it makes more sense and sanity to sell the airplane and rely on the airlines. Or even buy a share at NetJets or PlaneSense.

What Say you?

You're wrong. It has ALWAYS made "more sense and sanity to sell the airplane and rely on the airlines". But, most of us just enjoy it too much.

The problems you describe are across the board, not just aviation lately. Your airlines keep cancelling or delaying flights due to staff shortages just the same.

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I don't know what to tell you Walt. Sorry you are having those bad experiences. Not all shops are out to rip you off. I have worked in aircraft maintenance for over 35 years mostly on the airline side as a Chief Inspector/Director of Quality Assurance. Now I run a part 145 repair station maintaining a fleet of flight school aircraft as well as doing outside customer work. I try to run our shop the same way we ran the airline maintenance department. We have a great budget and no reason ever to cut corners for any reason. The outside work is really just filler and to keep things interesting for my maintenance personnel but we approach maintenance on those aircraft the same way. We don't need the outside customer work to keep the lights on or make payroll so I try to be very reasonable (actually more reasonable than I should) on everything. We don't up charge parts or charge extra fees for anything. 

What has really been an eye opener for me are the aircraft owners. Someone has an expensive nice aircraft, pays thousands of dollars in hangar rent and insurance every year (I know this because I have my own aircraft), wants their aircraft fixed NOW, and then gripes about every little thing on their invoice. Meanwhile they are buying things like a $3200 EIS system on a carbureted O-360 so they can save gas because they went to Oshkosh and the salesman told them they would save 10%. And don't tell a customer a flight control bracket that you found cracked and broken during an annual inspection costs $400 (Used. Again my cost, no up charge). You would think the whole world was going to explode... Even after you show it to them I get asked, "Well isn't there a cheaper alternative"? One would think they would be pleased it was found before it let go in flight.

You bought a 50 year old aircraft for goodness sakes for over $100k and you pay over $7 for gas for it! You want to it ready to fly every minute of every day. Did you really think it was going to be inexpensive to maintain it? Do you really want the maintenance on your single engine aircraft to be "cheap". 

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2 hours ago, FlyWalt said:

After ten years of of aircraft ownership, I am seriously considering pulling my support of this industry. Over the past 12 months I have had three visits to three different maintenance facilities. The increased prices combined with lack of parts availability is bad enough. However, when you add the the lack of labor in these shops, it has me truly worried about mistakes being made that will effect my aircraft and my family.

Furthermore, I have been blatantly RIPPED OFF by a used parts shop and a propeller shop in this past year by misrepresentations and lies. In both cases they are shops that I have done business with and used to trust.

I spend a lot of money every year, making sure that my aircraft is maintained up to the same standard that I enjoy at my airline job. It is simply necessary in my opinion. I do not carry squawks all year till annual time. I get everything fixed when it breaks. I keep my databases up and watch the expiration dates on required maintenance. But we have to have help from the shops that we are paying for vital services.

If the major organizations such as AOPA and EAA are not going to stand up and set a standard for the services that their members receive in the market then why should I be forced to do that job for them.

As things are now in General Aviation, it makes more sense and sanity to sell the airplane and rely on the airlines. Or even buy a share at NetJets or PlaneSense.

What Say you?

I’m having EXACTLY the same problems getting my house worked on.  Plumbing roofing siding and addition - where did all the workers go?  The service has gone down the quality has gone fine but the prices have gone way way up.  Inflation is one thing but the decline of quality and impossibility of finding people stinks.

flying ga never made financial sense.

One advise if you can find it - find a shop or mechanics that know you personally and form a lasting relationship - humanize yourself and humanize them - the quality of the work then also comes from a place of looking after friends.  And likewise I show customer loyalty and I bring beers and rides etc.

 

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If you don't have places you need to be, or the places you need to be are airline friendly, no sense in owning a complex single or a twin.  To just experience the joy of flight, something cub-like or Pitts-like makes more sense to me.

But I've got places to be, so I pay the freight.  I'm also fortunate to have a local shop 200 yards from my hangar with lots of Mooney experience.

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I think the issue is in the "Certified World"  general aviation and the age of the planes most GA pilots own.

The lack of progress in the way items get certified is very limiting.

The lack of new technology being used in certified aircraft is ridiculous. Mainly on the engine side of things. I'm sure there's some people that are going to say "My plane been flying for 50 years just fine and there is nothing wrong with magnetos!"

I pretty new to the GA world and in the short time I have owned my plane. I have realized that Experimental Aircraft are far superior, more reliable and in my opinion make them more safe to fly.

Knowing what I know now... I would have never bought my Mooney but don't take this the wrong way. I love my Mooney and would not buy any other certified aircraft to take it place. I don't plan on selling my plane but I might add something different to the fleet.

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2 minutes ago, WAFI said:

I think the issue is in the "Certified World"  general aviation and the age of the planes most GA pilots own.

The lack of progress in the way items get certified is very limiting.

The lack of new technology being used in certified aircraft is ridiculous. Mainly on the engine side of things. I'm sure there's some people that are going to say "My plane been flying for 50 years just fine and there is nothing wrong with magnetos!"

I pretty new to the GA world and in the short time I have owned my plane. I have realized that Experimental Aircraft are far superior, more reliable and in my opinion make them more safe to fly.

Knowing what I know now... I would have never bought my Mooney but don't take this the wrong way. I love my Mooney and would not buy any other certified aircraft to take it place. I don't plan on selling my plane but I might add another one to the fleet.

FWIW, owning a Mooney has severely demotivated me in my original quest to build an RV-10 :D

Realistically, there's no way I'd have the time to devote to design, building and testing an EA-B aircraft until after I retire.  Right now, the cost of running the Mooney is not much more than the cost of building the RV.

I suppose one could buy an E-AB off the market, but then you would have almost the same problem with finding maintenance, since you couldn't do the work yourself.  On top of that, you'd also need to find a trustworthy mechanic who is ALSO willing to work on E-AB aircraft

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Just now, jaylw314 said:

FWIW, owning a Mooney has severely demotivated me in my original quest to build an RV-10 :D

Realistically, there's no way I'd have the time to devote to design, building and testing an EA-B aircraft until after I retire.  Right now, the cost of running the Mooney is not much more than the cost of building the RV.

I suppose one could buy an E-AB off the market, but then you would have almost the same problem with finding maintenance, since you couldn't do the work yourself.  On top of that, you'd also need to find a trustworthy mechanic who is ALSO willing to work on E-AB aircraft

Agree... the only thing holding me back from building a EA is time as well. I am still looking at alternative solutions to buying a EA and being able to work and modify it too.

I have just recently learned that I can go to a two week class and obtain a repairman's certification, that would allow me to work on my own EA. You can also hire someone to do a build assist with a kitplane and that will shorten the time you would need to commit too. You would need to be there to complete most of the rigging and engine install but wouldn't have to paint the plane for example.

Side note: I'm looking at a 4 place Cub from Airframes Alaska or 4 place Bearhawk 5, maybe a KitFox.

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21 minutes ago, WAFI said:

Agree... the only thing holding me back from building a EA is time as well. I am still looking at alternative solutions to buying a EA and being able to work and modify it too.

I have just recently learned that I can go to a two week class and obtain a repairman's certification, that would allow me to work on my own EA. You can also hire someone to do a build assist with a kitplane and that will shorten the time you would need to commit too. You would need to be there to complete most of the rigging and engine install but wouldn't have to paint the plane for example.

Side note: I'm looking at a 4 place Cub from Airframes Alaska or 4 place Bearhawk 5, maybe a KitFox.

The 2-day and 2-week classes gets your Repairman Certificate for within the S-LSA and E-LSA categories.  If your experimental is above the LSA class, you still cannot do the Annual (they call it "Condition Inspection" in the Experimental world).  However all maintenance for Experimental, LSA and larger, can be done by any owner.  You do not need to be the 51% builder or have a Repairman Cert for maintenance, just the Condition Inspection.  

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Don't know where you live or what you fly, but I've owned for 20 years and flown for 30.  Without exaggeration, I can honestly say that I've never had a bad experience with a maintenance shop or worked with one that I thought was dishonest.  I've had work done in CA, TX, OK and MS.  They've all been great to work with and they've all done quality work.  In fact, some shops have amazed me at their skill and ability to attack a problem efficiently.  So far, with my '67F, I've never had a problem finding parts (yes I know that could change in an instant).  Yes getting work done can escalate and get expensive quickly, and yes the good shops have a line at the door, but my experience has all been good.  I only expect an estimate, never a firm quote, and I never gripe about overruns from unforeseen issues; it's always time and materials.  I try to be reasonable with the shops and the shops have all been reasonable with me.  There's one thing I require; I want to be involved with the work, the rationale, and the decisions.  WIth that said, the things that discourage me are hangar availability and cost, fuel prices, sales and property taxes, and the endless requirements to maintain currency, medicals and insurance.  And yes I'd like to build a kit, but hanger availability and prices in my area make it a non starter.  

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28 minutes ago, WAFI said:

Agree... the only thing holding me back from building a EA is time as well. I am still looking at alternative solutions to buying a EA and being able to work and modify it too.

I have just recently learned that I can go to a two week class and obtain a repairman's certification, that would allow me to work on my own EA. You can also hire someone to do a build assist with a kitplane and that will shorten the time you would need to commit too. You would need to be there to complete most of the rigging and engine install but wouldn't have to paint the plane for example.

Side note: I'm looking at a 4 place Cub from Airframes Alaska or 4 place Bearhawk 5, maybe a KitFox.

I just spoke with the nice folks at Sling a few days ago.  If you go with their builder assist program, you're up in the $360K plus range before you're done but you get an aircraft in months instead of years.  You can buy a lot of Mooney for $360K; I think I'd rather have the Mooney.  Now building an RV-8 would be different; that could be fun whether you ever finish or not.  

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1 hour ago, JimB said:

I don't know what to tell you Walt. Sorry you are having those bad experiences. Not all shops are out to rip you off. I have worked in aircraft maintenance for over 35 years mostly on the airline side as a Chief Inspector/Director of Quality Assurance. Now I run a part 145 repair station maintaining a fleet of flight school aircraft as well as doing outside customer work. I try to run our shop the same way we ran the airline maintenance department. We have a great budget and no reason ever to cut corners for any reason. The outside work is really just filler and to keep things interesting for my maintenance personnel but we approach maintenance on those aircraft the same way. We don't need the outside customer work to keep the lights on or make payroll so I try to be very reasonable (actually more reasonable than I should) on everything. We don't up charge parts or charge extra fees for anything. 

What has really been an eye opener for me are the aircraft owners. Someone has an expensive nice aircraft, pays thousands of dollars in hangar rent and insurance every year (I know this because I have my own aircraft), wants their aircraft fixed NOW, and then gripes about every little thing on their invoice. Meanwhile they are buying things like a $3200 EIS system on a carbureted O-360 so they can save gas because they went to Oshkosh and the salesman told them they would save 10%. And don't tell a customer a flight control bracket that you found cracked and broken during an annual inspection costs $400 (Used. Again my cost, no up charge). You would think the whole world was going to explode... Even after you show it to them I get asked, "Well isn't there a cheaper alternative"? One would think they would be pleased it was found before it let go in flight.

You bought a 50 year old aircraft for goodness sakes for over $100k and you pay over $7 for gas for it! You want to it ready to fly every minute of every day. Did you really think it was going to be inexpensive to maintain it? Do you really want the maintenance on your single engine aircraft to be "cheap". 

Where are you located, I’m gonna come to your shop for mx!

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It’s everything, I’m going through a medical issue, both knees replaced last year, but right one is infected with Staph.

It really, really needs surgery ASAP as of course it’s sort of like cancer, every day it gets worse and spreads, there is a 15% mortality rate for this, early treatment increases odds of survival

I can’t get a Surgeon to do it for months, University of Florida has me scheduled for Surgery Feb 22, I tried getting into Mayo Clinic in Jax, mid Summer was their answer.

So I tried pleading if they have an opening, I’m ready, I can be there in an hour.

From my understanding say you buy an RV-8 or 10. You can do everything, overhaul the engine whatever, but once a year an A&P has to do the condition inspection, if you build it, then you can do the condition inspection.

One therefore assumes that anything found in the inspection that you can fix, so i. reality if this is correct you never have to pay for any maintenance, just a yearly inspection.

A neighbor has a Lancair IVP turbine that he would sell me for 200K, needs painting, I thought about it as I know the aircraft is good, but I don’t really have any use for an airplane like that, and couldn’t keep it at home because that’s not a grass strip kind of airplane.

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It’s very frustrating, but owning an old plane does not make any sense.

It’s a hobby and you either enjoy the journey or you don’t.

I thought about selling the plane seriously 3 times already in 2 years of owning it. But then you go flying, everything works and I fall in love again. 

All industries are affected and complaining about a privileged hobby is just silly. 

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Just now, MMsuper21 said:

It’s very frustrating, but owning an old plane does not make any sense.

It’s a hobby and you either enjoy the journey or you don’t.

I thought about selling the plane seriously 3 times already in 2 years of owning it. But then you go flying, everything works and I fall in love again. 

All industries are affected and complaining about a privileged hobby is just silly. 

The first 2-3 years are the worst.  Then you get the bugs out.  

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22 minutes ago, Bolter said:

The 2-day and 2-week classes gets your Repairman Certificate for within the S-LSA and E-LSA categories.  If your experimental is above the LSA class, you still cannot do the Annual (they call it "Condition Inspection" in the Experimental world).  However all maintenance for Experimental, LSA and larger, can be done by any owner.  You do not need to be the 51% builder or have a Repairman Cert for maintenance, just the Condition Inspection.  

Umm... I'm not worried about the condition inspection or even paying for a full annual. I just want to be able to through on some Beringer wheels & brakes because they look cool and out preform other OEM stuff and not have to wait for some damn STC to be approved. Maybe modify the landing gear to accommodate larger tires and loads. I'm not 100% sure but I believe I will at least need a repairman cert to do my own modifications, or have to be the 51% builder. 

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2 hours ago, WAFI said:

The lack of new technology being used in certified aircraft is ridiculous. Mainly on the engine side of things. I'm sure there's some people that are going to say "My plane been flying for 50 years just fine and there is nothing wrong with magnetos!"

I pretty new to the GA world and in the short time I have owned my plane. I have realized that Experimental Aircraft are far superior, more reliable and in my opinion make them more safe to fly.

The quality of an EAB all depends upon the B--who BUILT it.

Two accidents will explain what I mean:

  • John Denver bought an EAB. The fuel tank switch was behind the pilot's seat, he was trying to flip it from one tank to the other [using the pair of vice grips that the builder included for this task] when he lost control, crashed and died.
  • An EAB, I forget the make or even year, had "issues" and crashed. The pilot had secured the seatbelt before takeoff, but was thrown out of his seat and killed. Investigation revealed that the builder added the seat belt attachment point near the end of the fiberglass layup, and only had two layers of fabric holding it to the airframe. The attachment point tore loose in the crash, with the belt still securely buckled at the pilot's waist.

So if you do go EXPERIMENTAL, go carefully!!

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I totally understand the OP feeling. I have owned a Mooney M20J for 1 year now and haven't got to fly it yet, annual of hell, Mooney taking 6 months to produce a spare part, MSC that are a complete ripoff, etc. The GA ecosystem seems broken. I'm not saying that everything is bad, but there is a lot of things that are messed up.

Some I think are fixable, many others no, unless the industry really turns around, what I don't think is going to happen.

I sometimes think that we should come up with a system that could help us stay as "safe" (not only physically but financially as well) as possible. What are your thoughts in having a crowd source system for:

  • Reviewing/evaluating GA shops and part sellers.
  • Having helpful resources in a organized/centralized way for pre buy inspections, general maintenance, etc.

Many times I think of starting myself something like that, just for the fun of it, but I don't know if it would gain traction.

Also, something I would really like is to be able to be able to get certified as a AP+IA. Being able to maintain our airplanes would be a huge benefit for saving money and time, not always, but in a lot of cases.

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This thread highlights why I believe the current pricing craziness won't last.  Once the realities of ownership sink in, most of the new, first-time owners who bought into the market since COVID, and there are lots, will get disillusioned and leave.  It will be bad enough for guys that bought good airplanes, imagine the guys who bought all the airframes advertised and sold over the last two years that hadn't seen the light of day in decades, got annualled and maybe a tailbeacon hung on and flipped as "low time."  I suspect a whole lotta folks will be looking to get out.

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2 hours ago, WAFI said:

I have realized that Experimental Aircraft are far superior, more reliable and in my opinion make them more safe to fly.

I’m interested in how you came to this realization. I’m an EAA member and I love the innovation that comes from experimental aircraft but everything I’ve seen shows the E-AB accident rate is at least twice what it is for certified aircraft. I’d love to see something that suggests otherwise.

The NTSB’s 2012 Findings

– E/ABs account for a disproportionate number of total accidents and an even more disproportionate share of fatal accidents when compared with similar non-E/AB aircraft conducting similar flight operations.

– Accident analyses indicate that powerplant failures and loss of control in flight are the most common E/AB aircraft accident occurrences by a large margin. Accident occurrences are similar for both new and used aircraft.

– Structural failures have not been a common occurrence among E/AB aircraft.

– Compared with similar non-E/AB aircraft, a much higher proportion of accidents involving E/AB aircraft occur early in the aircraft’s operational life.

– A similarly large proportion of E/AB aircraft accidents occur shortly after being purchased by a subsequent owner (14 of the 224 study accidents during 2011 occurred during the first flight by a new owner of a used E/AB aircraft).

 

https://www.aviationsafetymagazine.com/features/e-ab-aircraft-safety/

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44 minutes ago, WAFI said:

Umm... I'm not worried about the condition inspection or even paying for a full annual. I just want to be able to through on some Beringer wheels & brakes because they look cool and out preform other OEM stuff and not have to wait for some damn STC to be approved. Maybe modify the landing gear to accommodate larger tires and loads. I'm not 100% sure but I believe I will at least need a repairman cert to do my own modifications, or have to be the 51% builder. 

You can do any work, maintenance or upgrades to the Experimental aircraft, just not the annual "condition inspection."

from the EAA: https://www.eaa.org/eaa/aircraft-building/intro-to-aircraft-building/frequently-asked-questions/non-builder-maintenance

image.png.28540a4ba2872fd5c5c98f04f5853878.png

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Just now, Hank said:

The quality of an EAB all depends upon the B--who BUILT it.

Two accidents will explain what I mean:

  • John Denver bought an EAB. The fuel tank switch was behind the pilot's seat, he was trying to flip it from one tank to the other [using the pair of vice grips that the builder included for this task] when he lost control, crashed and died.
  • An EAB, I forget the make or even year, had "issues" and crashed. The pilot had secured the seatbelt before takeoff, but was thrown out of his seat and killed. Investigation revealed that the builder added the seat belt attachment point near the end of the fiberglass layup, and only had two layers of fabric holding it to the airframe. The attachment point tore loose in the crash, with the belt still securely buckled at the pilot's waist.

So if you do go EXPERIMENTAL, go carefully!!

HA!! I would like to smack the Friday at 5 o'clock engineered idea it was to put the fuel selector out of reach in between my feet on my Mooney!!! Home depot supplied PVC pipe with two cuts in it, is my STC fuel selector tool.

The quality of certified work is built on experience not a certificate.

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2 hours ago, WAFI said:

I think the issue is in the "Certified World"  general aviation and the age of the planes most GA pilots own.

The lack of progress in the way items get certified is very limiting.

The lack of new technology being used in certified aircraft is ridiculous. Mainly on the engine side of things. I'm sure there's some people that are going to say "My plane been flying for 50 years just fine and there is nothing wrong with magnetos!"

I pretty new to the GA world and in the short time I have owned my plane. I have realized that Experimental Aircraft are far superior, more reliable and in my opinion make them more safe to fly.

These days with our lack of autopilot replacements and general extreme lag in technology availability for GA, I tend to point the finger at the FAA for getting the balance way wrong in their conflicting mandates.

The guy that did my prop balance has an RV-8 with a Lyc IO-360 that has full electronic ignition and full electronic fuel injection.   It uses automotive-style pulsed injectors that inject in the intake tube, not in the head, and so don't get any heat soak after shutdown (not that it would matter as much with those, but his fuel rails run below the cylinders rather than above).   A local A&P/IA came by and was chatting and the RV that he had for a while was set up similarly.   Apparently it is not uncommon now to have full computer-controlled engine management with lambda sensors and everything, and it's been out there flying around for a while and not just in the Lycoming IE engines.   The guys that make these systems probably make enough money just in the experimental market that they have no desire to spend the large investment required to leap the tall building hurdles that the FAA has in place to move technology to certificated GA aircraft.  It kind of makes you wonder why the experimental category exists with that name any more.

Supposedly there is a rule overhaul in the pipeline, but I think that's been true for a long time now.   

And as others have mentioned, the experimental aircraft that are out there are only as good as their builders, and some of them are fairly sketchy.   If I had space somewhere I'd be building an RV-10 or -14 or something, but additional hangar space is hard to find these days.

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