Disastrous First (and Last) Annual - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by obw, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    The FARs need to have the same provisions we have in the Canadian CARs, which tells the discoverer of a defect to record the defect in the Journey log before the next flight. The pilots are supposed to check that Log before flight to see if there were any snags as a result of a previous flight or maintenance action, and whether they were fixed.

    So you'd have to have not only the usual Airframe Engine and Propeller Logs, but you'd need the Journey Log as well. Every flight gets recorded in that log. Every defect that shows up during any part of a flight is supposed to get recorded there, and some are pilot-deferrable. Mechanics check back through the log to see if there are outstanding defects that need repair.

    The same rule requires any airworthiness defects found by a mechanic that the owner doesn't want repaired also be recorded in the logs. I used to record them in both the Journey Log and on the work reports and the owner had to sign the deferrals. Photocopies were kept. This protects the shop and mechanic in court should an accident occur or some naive buyer finds expensive problems and goes after the shop. Even then, there were things I refused to pass no matter what. I would not sign off an airplane with a cracked muffler, for instance. That's not a defect deferrable by anybody.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
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  2. JAWS

    JAWS Cleared for Takeoff

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    Not a guru, but I do know how to read. Plus working on a few airplanes over 20+ years has helped.

    I do understand Bell's POV. The owner is the go to person for his aircraft. Up here in Canada, an annual is treated like just another required maintenance event - you inspect and report to the owner. AD's are even specifically mentioned as being solely an owners responsibility.

    But when an owner is also the maintainer, the lines between the two roles tend to get a bit fuzzy. Something along the lines of "A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client".
     
  3. JAWS

    JAWS Cleared for Takeoff

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    :)
     
  4. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    This is a major selling point for experimental aircraft. When you build it you know it better than anyone else and can get the certificate to do what needs to be done. Yet I still have the privilege to let the folks with better training, equipment, and experience take a look at it once in a while. But for the certified aircraft you really do have to trust that those you are paying to find and fix problems are doing so. I mean "come on man, here's the deal" it's what they are being paid to do!
     
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  5. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    While I enjoy the flexibility of the FARs there are some shortcomings especially on the records side. There was some limited discussion years ago to require all aircraft owner/operators to make an annual entry in the record that the aircraft met the terms and conditions of its AWC. This would have put the owner solidly in the paper trail and almost guarantee compliance with the regulations. However, since the FAA structure is considered a "closed system" where everyone followed the rules it never made it out the box.
     
  6. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    So when an owner hires a shady APIA to perform a 20 minute/$200 annual on his certified aircraft, does result of that inspection still only rest on the APIA or should the owner be held to the same standard also? Or, if an owner hires a straight shooting APIA that tells the owner there is some corrosion developing that needs to be addressed, but the APIA finds it airworthy at that time. However the owner decides to sell the aircraft instead of addressing the corrosion, should the owner not be held accountable for with holding that information during the sale?
     
  7. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    What APIA’s put their names on the line for these $200 annuals? No morals? That hungry for a check? What drives this?

    Just curious.
     
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  8. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    Do you trust your doctor to tell you the truth? That's what he is paid to do. What you do with that information does not negate his responsibility to make you aware of it.
     
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  9. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

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    $200 for a signature? Easy money.

    The FAA made a huge mistake when they changed the testing for IA and opened it up to allow anyone to gain the authorization. That followed with the easy money types getting the IA and selling signatures. And they have plenty of willing customers.
     
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  10. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    SMH
     
  11. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    You missed the point. Do you pay your doctor to not look but just sign your physical off? There have been a few AMEs that sold signatures for the same reason. Just like some IAs.
     
  12. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    As mentioned, quick money for limited work. At $200/20 minutes thats $600 an hour. Some also get into the 337 racket to make more money for no work. It can be addictive for some people. Short of an accident they never get caught.
     
  13. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    I'm not going to argue with you. You're ducking the point and bring in all of your "what if" & "whattabout" scenarios. It's really simple. Professionals (supposedly) were paid to give an assessment of the health of this airplane. The owner did his due diligence by hiring people he thought he could trust to guide him through what he didn't know. They failed to do that and it appears it was deliberately done.

    When you hire a professional to do work that you have no clue about you have to trust what they tell you. This isn't really difficult to understand and methinks you are being purposely obtuse. So ... I'm done with trying to help you to understand ...
     
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  14. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Methinks you missed the point again. Whether you want to believe it or not some aircraft owners hire professionals simply for their signature and not their work. Best to stick with E/AB in your case.:rolleyes:

    In regards to the OP, he may have been the victim of this scenario prior to purchasing his aircraft. We may never know.
     
  15. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    In case you missed it:
     
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  16. Racerx

    Racerx Line Up and Wait

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    The problem lies with the owners that seek out the 20 minute annual. They're not seeking professionals that know better. They're seeking a signature only because they need the signature. Unfortunately that creates a false sense of security for the next guy and future IA's. I see planes for sale and they show log books. To me, that doesn't mean much. Do you trust a piece of paper that says work was done? How do you know the owner didn't seek out the shady a/p. How do you know that overhaul was actually done when you put a headliner over sever corrosion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  17. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Missed what........................o_O
     
  18. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    Same as when a contractor hires an engineer willing to seal his plans without looking at them. The engineer is on the hook. The fact that they didn't actually do their job creates additional liability, it isn't exculpatory. I don't understand why you think it would be. How would that go? "This is your signature in this logbook saying you inspected the aircraft and found it airworthy, isn't it?" "Yeah, I wrote that, but I didn't actually do the inspection." "Oh, in that case, you're off the hook.":frown2:

    If the airplane has defects that don't make it unairworthy, and the owner doesn't actively conceal them, that would seem to be covered by caveat emptor.
     
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  19. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    I can't answer your questions but the point is, even if the owner were seeking out a "less than professional" professional the responsibility still belongs to the guy with the inspection license, signed the book, and was paid to do the work. Since we are assuming (yep I know what that means) we might also guess that the owner is quite a dunce and has no clue at all what he was looking at and was led along being totally oblivious to what was happening. Still, it's the guy with the license that holds the responsibility.
     
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  20. YKA

    YKA Pre-takeoff checklist

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    20 minutes is impossible if they are doing the work required by law on an annual. So yes the shop and mechanic broke the law right there. I've had my aircraft owned wholly, or partly by me fail its annual 4 times in 20 years of owning. Then they call me up and we talk, and if time allows I personally go to the shop for a look. We discussed the issue, and i said make it right. It made me happy to hear of a fail. It meant they were doing their job. When i was 23 i didn't even know a vacuum pump was a thing that failed...in my head they were good for 100 years. Coming from cars, i thought an alternator should last 100 years to since a plane is flown a small fraction of the hours a car is driven by a regular Joe. When I had the engine replaced with a factory reman in my 210, it was suggested that I go to dual alternators for redundancy. They put in two 60 ampers, to replace the 100 amper it had. We rely on the shop to also educate us as we learn. I met a guy who had a similar attitude to bell206...5 minutes after flying my plane to him for a 100 hour service, I left...no way he was going to touch my plane. A few phone calls later, and I was off on the 30 minute flight to another guy, who was really nice, and let me stay in the shop and help him the entire time. I grew up wrenching on cars, motorbikes, boats, heavy equipment, and semi trucks. But common sense is common sense no matter what it is. He had a drawer in his box full of mirrors, some even on long telescoping handles, so he could see under things, and deep inside areas. To this day, he is still my go to guy. I used to live 50 nm south of him, now I live 50 north of him is all.
     
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  21. AdamZ

    AdamZ Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Wow! Sorry this happened to you. Appears to be a combination of cover up, incompetence and ignorance along the way. I'm going to disagree with everyone who said don't go the lawyer route. Disclaimer I am an attorney. Perhaps they are making a lot of assumptions or speaking anecdotally but the fees don't have to kill you or be seen as throwing good money after bad. There may be a time where the ROI for the legal route does not work but a good attorney is going to tell you what makes financial sense for you and what does not. I've told plenty of clients to cut their losses and walk away. Are there attorneys out there who will gouge you? Sure just like IT people and Mechanics will but that's why you get referrals. I am not sure what state you are in but the laws there will cover what you can and can't do. We had success for a client in recovering a substantial amount of his loss due to an issue with an aircraft engine that that covered up, misrepresented and then missed by a shoddy inspection. Mechanics don't want the aviation community to know they have been sued and more importantly they don't want the aviation community to see how horrible their work was. The potential for legal action makes that a very real possibility and while one may not get the full value of their loss they could get a respectable amount in a settlement. Those who say that the legal route won't work are wrong. It is not right for every situation but it has worked for our clients and those for whom it was not a good option we told them.
     
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  22. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Except in aviation the owner (contractor) is equally on the hook as the mechanic (engineer) as only the owner has the legal responsibility to maintain the aircraft in airworthy condition. Plus I never said the mechanic is off the hook either. My whole point to push this topic is that they are both liable and not just the APIA. Perhaps some examples with the OPs aircraft.

    OP Examples:
    If the previous owner engaged an APIA to perform a 20 minute annual or ignore the corrosion, then the APIA violates 43.13 and the owner violates 91.403 as we all know a 20 min annual or covering up disc's does not meet a consensus of the requirements.

    Or, if the previous owner engaged a APIA that performed a legit annual, subjectively determined the corrosion to be airworthy at that time (not the future) but informed the owner that discrepancy will become unairworthy in the future, and subsequently, the owner sold that aircraft at a later date with that known discrepancy, then the owner tentatively violated 91.405 and by extension 91.403. However, the APIA could also be looked at for violating 43.13 but doubtful.

    A lot of owners think they’re off the hook when it comes to maintenance issues as shown by the posts on this thread. Unfortunately ignorance does not make a good defense when the hammer drops. The FARs place wide powers and accountability on the owners: responsible for maintaining the aircraft in airworthy condition (91.403); responsible for AD compliance (91.403); responsible for selecting program and having aircraft inspected (91.405); responsible for having discrepancies repaired in between required inspections (91.405); produce their own parts with no oversight (21.9), and so on. No APIA has these same regulatory responsibilities or authorizations.

    Now in the case of the missing nuts on the wing spar, the owner would probably not be involved unless he knew about the the missing hdw prior to flight. So in that case only the APIA would get a 43.13 violation. While maintenance can be complex there are certain parts that are not, like the owner responsibilities above.

    So whether you want to believe this bit of information or not that is totally up to you. But it is what it is. I’ve done my part to inform.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  23. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Yet there are owners today who permit "quickie" annuals on their aircraft every month to include several here on PoA who champion and defend that the inspection part of an annual per Part 43 App D should only take 15 or 20 minutes. Its there in black and white for your review if you so choose.

    So the fact you do not subscribe to this mentality give yourself some kudos and keep up the good work as there are a number of other owners out there that prefer the 20 minute route or worse, simply sign on the dotted line route.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  24. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Quick question if I may. Are there any national/regional legal services that provide discounted rates or work only on consignment for those with this type of aviation problem? One of the biggest problem we had faced in the past in several different states was the reluctance for local attorneys to take a case on consignment or at least at a reduced retainer especially when the projected costs where close to the asset value. And is there a preferred method to approach an attorney with this type of issue?
     
  25. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    Wouldn't that be a question for a attorney ?
     
  26. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    That's why I asked Adam the attorney.....
     
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  27. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    Thank you Adam. A fellow POA member who is an attorney kindly reached out to me and is offering some advice, which is very much appreciated. One question I have is whether to try a personal communication from me with the previous owner, pre-buy A&P, and previous APIAs who signed off on the annuals and see what their response is, and then use an attorney if they aren't playing ball? Or engage a lawyer from day one for the initial communication?
     
  28. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    Personally I would let the lawyer handle it. I wouldn't want to do or say anything that would jeopardize any of the possible legal options. I certainly wouldn't do anything over the phone unless I could legally record it. I would do it via certified mail so it was all documented. My guess is the owner knew there was a lot of lipstick on this pig and will not be very cooperative. I hope I am wrong.
     
  29. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Personally I see no harm in talking to everyone first. But ask the one with the sheep skin.
     
  30. AGLyme

    AGLyme Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Re attorneys, from a business person's perspective... first of all, God bless 'em. Secondly, the "value of this case" is low. Meaning, it will be tough to attract a solid attorney who will work on contingency (i.e. no Cash payments to the attorney, rather the attorney takes a cut of the ultimate settlement). Therefore, it is highly likely that you will be paying hourly. If you and the plane seller/A&P's live in different states, then it becomes much more expensive to litigate. Litigation has winners and losers. However in all cases the lawyers win in the money department. The only win you will have is emotional. Consider yourself lucky that the damage was caught before you were up there in turb. Every attorney in the land would be suing that sketchy group on contingency because the value of losing your life would (sadly) be valued enough to attract a solid attorney. Scrap it and get what you can and count your blessings.

    And yes, you have nothing to lose sending letters to the sketchy group involved in the ordeal and see if you can recover anything from the Seller especially. Some states have "Lemon laws" I am unsure if airplanes apply as well.
     
  31. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Maybe see if AOPA has a lawyer that may help you out. They could do an article "Case study of a pre-buy inspection gone wrong"
     
  32. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    More accurately, he likely knew there was a lot of pig under the lipstick.

    Any inspections I did I used the inspection checklist from the airplane's maintenance manual. If that checklist was unusually short (Bellanca Viking comes to mind) I'd run though it to make sure it at least covered all the criteria specified in the regulations (In Canada, Appendices B and C). The airframe manufacturer has a much better idea where a mechanic should look, that the regulators do, and most of them periodically update those checklists as the SDR databases expose the damages of age, environment and air time. So if you photocopy that checklist, initial each line after you have inspected that bit, you have some proof that you were inside those areas and had a look. Snag sheets should immediately record everything that doesn't look right. You won't remember all the little stuff that stood out to you.

    I was always amazed at the stuff I found on airplanes that had just had an "annual." Inspection covers whose screws were rusted in tight and hadn't been out in a generation. Seized control system pulleys, badly worn control surface hinges, corrosion in critical areas. Once found two badly-cracked exhaust stacks on a just-annualled airplane; that's just criminal. It's engine hoses were also 30 years old. Huge mouse nests in some airplanes.
     
  33. chemgeek

    chemgeek Pattern Altitude

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    This is a heart-breaking story. If it were me, I would seek out and consult with a lawyer to determine if it is likely to recover any damages from the A&Ps responsible for letting this level of potentially life-threatening structural damage "slip through the cracks." However, there is likely the possibility of some sort of financial loss nevertheless. Getting a judgement and getting an award are different animals. But who knows...maybe the responsible parties were insured. Ethically, I think it would be reasonable to prevent the irresponsible parties from doing this to others in the future. We all like to complain about how much it costs to maintain aircraft, and hate to be nickel and dimed to death. But on the other hand I will not tolerate mechanics who gloss over essential and important maintenance and repair. In the end, we all want to fly safe aircraft. I've seen my share of "loose" and "overzealous" mechanics over 35 years.
     
  34. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    Maybe at some point an emotional win will feel good, but at this point I'm much more interested in getting my money back!
     
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  35. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I still say call the guy, the last owner, up and tell him what's up, see what he says. Give the AP who gave you the go ahead to buy a call and let him know what happened, see what he says.

    Unfortunately, they have your money and you have what appears to be an airplane you can't fly. You can go the legal route after talking to the last owner. , but I doubt a lawyer would take this on contingency, I'm thinking the guy is not wealthy.
     
  36. AdamZ

    AdamZ Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Good question. There is of course the AOPA legal services plan that I believe offer's free consultations and perhaps a reduced hourly rate. There is also the Lawyer Pilots Bar Association which is a national bar and sometimes their younger members will take things at a lower rate. Also a lot of firms who have younger associates might let them run with it at a lower rate or contingency. I think the reluctance you or your company may have faced is how much you were trying to recover. the lower the cost the lower the ROI of an attorney. That said I'm confident there are a lot of attorneys out there who would fire off a nastygram letter for not much money.

    OBW also a good question. So without knowing more my initial impression ( not legal advice) is that the liability would be on the guy that did your pre-buy. I think it would be hard to make out a case against the airline pilot intervening owner based on the limited info above. I think you'd have to show they actively concealed something. I am not an A&P and I don't play one on TV nor did I stay a a Holiday Inn Express last night but that corrosion looks to this in experienced lay eye like it has been there for sometime which if correct should mean that the airline pilots A&P should have caught it and the A&P initial owner should have caught it. My guess is the FAA would be interested in talking to all the A&Ps back to the "Original" A&P owner. The ease with which your current A&P found the issue says a lot. But my concern with the client trying to get something from the A&P who did the pre buy is that things may get lost and they may try to BS you. Although I think it might be good to invite him over to your current mechanic's hangar to inspect the plane and see what he missed and that might be harder once you get counsel involved as he will likely be skiddish.
     
  37. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    If anyone said that an owner who concealed the condition of this aircraft is off the hook, it wasn't me. But the fact that the owner, as the operator, is responsible for maintaining the aircraft in airworthy condition, is primarily and issue between the owner and the FAA. The AP/IA is the "certified expert" whose job it is to determine if the airplane is airworthy, and who literally signs his name certifying that it is. He also gets paid by the owner in order to carry out that function. The OP has privity with the seller, who in turn has privity with his seller and his IA who signed off on the annual that was done while he owned it. An equitable outcome, in my opinion, would be the OP returning the aircraft to the seller, and the seller filing a claim against his IA's professional liability insurance. That's assuming that the aircraft is really in the obviously terrible shape that's being claimed here and a case could be made that the prior IA should have caught it.
     
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  38. obw

    obw Pre-Flight

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    Unfortunately it looks like the plane really is in that bad a shape. A second AP/IA from a different shop has now looked over the plane and agrees with the assessment of my mechanic.
     
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  39. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    This ^^^ :yeahthat:
     
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  40. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    My bad. I took you to believe that per your contractor example.