Question: Pilots who are also A&Ps

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by Hat Man, Apr 17, 2019 at 1:39 PM.

  1. Hat Man

    Hat Man Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi, I'm brand new to the forums. Also, while I've been obsessed with aviation since I was a kid, I'm only just now starting my way towards a PPL.

    My question has to do with having both a PPL and an A&P. A little bit of background. I am a jet engine mechanic for the United States Air Force, working on a flightline. I am currently just starting to gain hours in Cessnas at my local aeroclub. About 3 years from now, I will PCS from my current base (which is not a very good place to own, store, and launch a personal aircraft). After that 3 years however, where ever I move, I plan on looking into purchasing my own aircraft to build hours on towards various certifications. I've already done quite a bit of research on options for this, but am still learning. I want to be well prepared when the time comes.

    An A&P license is unnecessary in the USAF when working on aircraft. We specialize into individual systems, and learn the job from the ground up through a short technical school and on the job training. Our education is essentially whatever we're signed off to work on.

    However, getting an A&P as an air force maintainer is essentially free. All I would need to do is get signed off on jobs in a variety of other fields (which can be done on the job), study for the A&P, take a permissive TDY to take a 2 week crash course, then final test. That crash course can be paid for via military benefits. Which means before I leave my current base, I could acquire an A&P license. I've also heard it's relatively easy for engine mechanics like myself compared to other shops, since propulsion makes up about half of what is needed to get one.

    Anyway, I've been trying to do some research on the most cost effective method of purchasing and operating a private aircraft. I've been thinking about possibly getting an old, mid or high time Cessna 150 or similar aircraft, due to the very low initial cost. However, obviously these machines will be more maintenance intensive, espescially if they require something like an engine overhaul right off the bat. I've found resources on aproximate cost breakdowns of aircraft like this, however maintenance is basically lumped into one big cost.

    So my question is, when I get certified as an A&P, what kind of cost reductions could I expect if I were to work on my own aircraft? I understand parts would still be a cost to consider, but the labor costs would be essentially eliminated. It would be my own time and effort. Does anybody here have knowledge on the cost breakdown of light aircraft maintenance?

    Also, does anybody here have experience both owning and maintaining their own aircraft? Are pilots even allowed to be their own A&Ps, or is that regulated due to concern over conflict of interest?

    Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
     
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  2. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Line Up and Wait

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    Cost breakdown is depends on what’s broke down... sarcastic bus serious... maintenance you can plan on - stuff breaking you can’t really besides maybe planes or certain parts of it that are things ya kinda expect with the make and model or a specific part/accessory.
     
  3. Punkinhead

    Punkinhead Pre-Flight

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    I don't think you'll find much maintenance being necessary for a Cessna 150 if you buy a decent one.
     
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  4. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Line Up and Wait

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    That is one of the reasons I chose the 150s predecessor the 140 that as far as airplanes go there isn't a lot to need service and repair.
     
  5. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    I am a pilot and mechanic.....I couldn't afford to own an aircraft without wrenching. I'd say probably 2/3'rds of the cost are labor. So....there's your savings.

    As per owner/operator maintenance....or preventive maintenance....see 14 CFR 43.13 appendix A. (c)Preventive maintenance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 1:59 PM
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  6. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    You can be the mechanic for your own plane and after 3 years of holding an A&P you can get an IA cert and do your own annual inspections. It was pretty much the main reason I got an A&P license and has worked out well for me. Toughest part of getting an A&P is the experience hurdle so since you've got that covered it's a no-brainer. Get it.
     
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  7. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

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    I’m not a rich man so holding a mechanic certificate was the most realistic way for me to offset airplane ownership costs. I’m also very fussy when it comes to airplane condition so finding a mechanic that would help me maintain my airplane the way I want it was next to impossible. If I could find someone, it likely would have broke me financially too due to the hours required to get things straightened out and keep them that way.

    Depending on the airplane you buy and the condition it is in, I’d guess you’ll cut your ownership costs by 1/2 to 3/4 by maintaining it yourself. You’ll be able to cut your costs further if/when you earn an inspection authorization and can do your own annual inspections.

    All this said, if you’re just wanting to fly rather than aspiring to own and fly I think the opportunities I’ve gotten from having a flight instructor certificate outweigh those of having a mechanic certificate. That might be something else for you to consider as well.
     
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  8. Cluemeister

    Cluemeister Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I've never met an owner who also is an A&P tell me he wishes he wasn't an A&P. Always the opposite.
     
  9. Dana

    Dana Line Up and Wait

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    Also consider a used experimental. You don't even need to be an A&P to work on it, only need an A&P (not IA) for the annual, and you're not limited to using expensive TSO'd parts.
     
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  10. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Have you ever maintained one? I've maintained several (I'm both a pilot and mechanic, and used them as a flight instructor as well). They are little cheaper than a Lyc-powered 172. That O-200 usually needed valve work at mid-time, while our O-320's in the 172s went all the way to TBO without ever pulling the cylinders. There are places that things crack in the 150, as well. And the older ones with the flat-leaf gear legs suffer corrosion pitting that weakens that shot-peened surface so it cracks and fails, and legs are pretty hard to find now. Most are corroded. And just try finding a new fuel shutoff valve...
     
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  11. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    salvage yards are full of them..
     
  12. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    In all the 150s that I've owned and maintained, I've never seen one that had a bad or cracked gear leg.
    And McPhearson (sp) has fuel valves in stock.
     
  13. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    cheapest way to own pound for pound is probably experimental. Even cheaper if you hold an A&P.
     
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  14. Raymo

    Raymo Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Get the A&P and find a nice experimental, as others have said. Best bang for the buck, IMO, is the RV series of planes. But, I'm partial. Consider building your own to gain more experience. I mostly perform wiring/avionics with my A&P, which more than pays for my hobby. So, get some avionics experience any time you can.
     
  15. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Show me a E/AB 4 place that can be built for less than you can buy a Certified 4 place for.

    Parts are parts you will pay as much for a starter for A Experimental as you will a certified.
    Cleveland brake set, probably more.
     
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  16. Bell206

    Bell206 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Get your A&P as you stated without fail. Even if you need to put off the getting the PPL for awhile.
     
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  17. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Hat man if you're anything like me, at your 10 year point as a jet engine mechanic, you will cross train into ATC. Then you'll buy your plane and finish your PPL you started 20 years ago at an AF Aero Club. Then you'll start working with an A&P and get the hours needed for the airframe portion of your training for the test. I'm interested in how you can "get signed off on jobs in a variety of other fields" as in my AF career it wasn't that easy. Also, this two week crash course you spoke about...where is that and who from?

    Welcome to the forum by the way.
     
  18. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

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    There are a number of test prep scools out there that will get you through the written exams and the oral and practical if you show up with a signed 8610-2. Baker’s School of Aeronautics is a popular one.

    Be warned though, this will not teach you how to actually troubleshoot or maintain anything. The applicant really should have learned that on their own, since they do have the required experience to take the test. When I did my test prep and testing the guys who seemed to struggle the most were the guys who had little experience with maintaining light piston airplanes.
     
  19. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I'm familiar with Bakers and when the time comes, I'll go out to Tennessee and use them myself. The signed off 8610-2 is the issue. I need the hours and experience in order to prove to the FSDO that I'm ready to sit for the test. I'm just wondering how the OP intends to bypass that little hurdle.
     
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  20. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    military experience....
     
  21. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

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    I'm not a veteran so I can't tell you about this first hand but you can use your military experience to qualify. As I understand it, there are only a few assignments that make a person eligible for both the airframe and powerplant ratings. Most of the guys qualify for one or the other. If you were doing powerplant for 10 years in the military I'd guess that you could use that experience to get a mechanic certificate with a powerplant rating, then you'd only need 18 months of civilian work to earn the airframe rating. It might be worth looking into.
     
  22. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Line Up and Wait

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    Welcome to PoA, Hat Man. I got my private ticket through the Vandenberg AFB aero club while on active duty in 1964. Over the years, I've done owner assisted annual inspections working with an A&P who actually encouraged me to assist, saying that gives owners both a better understanding of their airplanes and a better appreciation for the work they do. He treated me like one of his apprentices, giving me OJT on all the tasks associated with a thorough annual.

    These days I fly a factory built O-200-A powered SLSA which I had converted to "Experimental Operating Light-Sport Prev. issued cert under 21.190" working through a DAR to make the change so I could both maintain it and perform modifications like installing ADS-B Out myself. Then I took the Rainbow Aviation 16 hour Light Sport Repairman-Inspection course, passed the exam, and got my FAA Light Sport Repairman - Inspection certificate so I can perform and sign off my annual condition inspections.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 6:18 PM
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  23. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    I asked McFarlane about that 150 valve in their catalog. They told me they didn't have any and couldn't get cores. They would rebuild the old one we sent them. Cessna doesn't have that valve anymore.

    As for the gear issue, I too worked on 150s and never had a cracked leg. But that doesn't mean they don't or won't happen. The fleet is getting old, stuff is rusting, and Cessna has been getting increasing numbers of reports of failed gear legs, which is why they published a bunch of updates for all their single engine service manuals. They give limits for dressing out corrosion and a whole lot of other info.

    Here's an article about the problem on 170s. It's not limited to really old airplanes, either. I've seen extensive, unrepairable pitting on late-60's airplanes.
    http://cessna170.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=4968
     
  24. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    This I know. I quality for the P portion already with my military experience BUT I'm learning all I can on light piston because a jet engine doesn't really compare. There are no magnetos in a jet engine. I'm only working every Saturday and a few other days thrown in here or there so it's going to take a while to get 18 months.
     
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  25. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    For the Powerplant portion...yes. In my day we couldn't be spared to go to other shops and learn how to repair an aluminum panel or drill out and replace rivets. Plus the FSDO looks at the DD-214 and can see various SEI (special experience identifier) codes and discern that indeed, this guy was a jet engine mechanic. But the DD-214 isn't going to list any other experience on the airframe because that isn't what the OP was officially trained for. Getting "signed off" on airframe stuff puzzles me because who would do this in the Air Force?

    I'm all for the OP getting his A&P cert but I don't think it is as easy as he made it sound. If it is, I want to go that route as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 6:21 PM
  26. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    OP was considering a C150. Why have you decided he needs a 4-place instead? Also the price of building is not the only cost. When you look at total cost of ownership, EAB usually wins.
     
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  27. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    It won't be as easy as anyone thinks......it's the hardest cert I've earned.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 7:09 PM
  28. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    cost of ownership is different than purchase price. have you priced a build kit lately? very few are less than 20k, about where the market begins for 2 and 4 placed certified.
    compare a RV-6 to a nice C-150 see how many annuals you can buy for the difference.
    I'd say the cost per hour of operation will be very close.
    I would never decide what a buyer needs, what I did was make a comparison, Seems you didn't like the prices there.
    There isn't any 4 place. E/AB's that you can build or buy for what you can buy a certified 4 place for.
    That comparison continues for the 2 place.
     
  29. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    As it should be. Who wants the mechanic who barely got the experience necessary to get his cert to work on their airplane? And who wants to be the mechanic that has never seen or heard of the problem an owner can bring to them?
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 7:14 PM
  30. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    that's cause the EA-Bs are much newer.....
     
  31. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Some thing most forget.. the NEC/MOS only gets you the chance to take the test. you jet mechs still must pass the test on magnetos, and all other aspects of being a "P" mechanic.
     
  32. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    Maybe,, but again the equipment installed a dynon full glass instrument panel is alone worth more than a C-150/ PA 28-140
     
  33. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Exactly.
     
  34. mondtster

    mondtster Pattern Altitude

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    That's an understatement... I didn't put in anywhere near as much work to earn all my pilot and instructor certificates and ratings as I did to get a mechanic certificate.
     
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  35. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    you won't find a glass panel in either of those.....o_O
     
  36. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    Curious if CFETP task sign-offs might help fill the experience bucket.
     
  37. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking PoA Supporter

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    I know, da. you will in many RV-?
     
  38. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Well you don't get the SEI if your CFETP tasks don't get signed off. All the DD-214 lists is the SEI and the title thereof, not specific tasks. I guess it wouldn't hurt to bring your 623 to the FSDO for backup but I doubt it would help since it isn't listed in their list of what it takes to get the sign off to take the test.
     
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  39. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Of course there isn't. In a word, duh. But your point is pretty meaningless because extremely few people select a model of airplane to buy based simply on the number of seats. Most if not all 4 place kits available today are FAR cheaper to build or purchase built than any certified 4-place aircraft of similar age and performance. So if your answer to that is 'yeah but you can buy a '59 Pacer for $35k so they're cheaper...' well that's a pretty weak argument IMO because the guy that's considering an RV10 build or purchase ain't in the market for a Pacer.
     
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  40. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    not even the same comparison......not even close.