Current Rates for Condition Inspections on NON-Builder EAB Aircraft (in the US)

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JayKoit

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Curious if anyone can shed light on what they're paying (or charging) for annual condition inspections for EAB aircraft, if you're NOT the original builder (or, you are, but choose to have an A&P do the condition inspection anyway).

I've looked at the couple threads posted from years back, but it's been a while so I'd like to find out some current rates. I'm budgeting for my next plane purchase, looking at certified aircraft vs. built & flying EAB aircraft, and the differences in annual costs vs condition inspection costs. Thanks.
 

Wanttaja

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Going to vary by the type of aircraft. I'd presume a typical condition inspection will take eight hours, multiplied by the A&P's shop rate. Length of the inspection will be affected by the complexity of the aircraft...a Baby Ace takes less time than a Lancair IV. Shop rate runs typically around $100/hour.. which is probably less than your local car mechanic charges.

It also depends on whether you expect the A&P to correct any conditions he or she finds. You'll either have to pay for the work to fix things, or do the work yourself (hopefully prior to the start of the inspection itself).

When the A&P shows up to do the condition inspection of my Fly Baby, all the inspection covers and cowlings are off, the times are entered in the logbooks, etc. When he gets done, he takes the logbooks home to make the entries while I reassemble the airplane. He's not a Fly Baby expert, so I have the builder's manual handy if I need to show him how things are supposed to go together.

My inspection (simple aircraft) thus takes about three hours, or more if he finds things that I'm not competent enough to correct myself.

Ron Wanttaja
 

JayKoit

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Going to vary by the type of aircraft. I'd presume a typical condition inspection will take eight hours, multiplied by the A&P's shop rate. Length of the inspection will be affected by the complexity of the aircraft...a Baby Ace takes less time than a Lancair IV. Shop rate runs typically around $100/hour.. which is probably less than your local car mechanic charges.

It also depends on whether you expect the A&P to correct any conditions he or she finds. You'll either have to pay for the work to fix things, or do the work yourself (hopefully prior to the start of the inspection itself).

When the A&P shows up to do the condition inspection of my Fly Baby, all the inspection covers and cowlings are off, the times are entered in the logbooks, etc. When he gets done, he takes the logbooks home to make the entries while I reassemble the airplane. He's not a Fly Baby expert, so I have the builder's manual handy if I need to show him how things are supposed to go together.

My inspection (simple aircraft) thus takes about three hours, or more if he finds things that I'm not competent enough to correct myself.

Ron Wanttaja
Thanks Ron, that sounds reasonable and makes sense. Of course you’re right, it will vary widely and I should have been more specific: I’m looking primarily at metal or composite EAB LSA, or 2 seat certified models that are 30k and under, so for EAB that would be Zenith 601s, Sonex, Jabiru Calypso/J160, etc. If I went certified, not a lot of choices with today’s prices but possibly C150, AA1, or an ercoupe.

I would definitely assist the a&p by prepping the plane and removing access panels, etc. and aim to do the maintenance and repairs that were needed as a result of the inspection (maybe with some help from a couple guys in my EAA chapter).
 

GeeZee

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$100 here too. Like Ron, I have everything ready for inspection. We do comp check and mag timing together. I do all maintenance. RV-9A. The A&P is a friend so that helps. Join an EAA chapter if you haven’t already. There are usually a couple of guys with A&Ps that have day jobs but use the certificate for a little pocket money.
 

Wanttaja

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$100 here too. Like Ron, I have everything ready for inspection. We do comp check and mag timing together. I do all maintenance. RV-9A. The A&P is a friend so that helps. Join an EAA chapter if you haven’t already. There are usually a couple of guys with A&Ps that have day jobs but use the certificate for a little pocket money.
For the first ten years of ownership, an old co-worker with an A&P did my condition inspections for free. I would buy him a nice present every Christmas.

He got ill and couldn't do inspections anymore, so I used a couple of freelancers over the years. They charged about $250. Had to train them a bit about homebuilts ("Doesn't the airplane have to be in the same configuration as when it was originally licensed?") but both eventually quit doing inspections.

My current guy is a long-time member of my EAA chapter who restored an older metal homebuilt and leveraged the experience to help get his A&P. I pay him the same as the others.

Biggest issue I have is the fact that my airplane is made out of wood...one doesn't find a lot of A&Ps with wood-airplane experience, anymore.

Ron Wanttaja
 

Marc Zeitlin

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Curious if anyone can shed light on what they're paying (or charging) for annual condition inspections for EAB aircraft, if you're NOT the original builder (or, you are, but choose to have an A&P do the condition inspection anyway).
As Ron W. states, it will vary substantially based on the type of aircraft. Ron's Fly Baby might be a 3 hour job, but an RV, with about 8 zillion screws, is not. Neither are canards (which is what I specialize in, but not to the exclusion of anything else). Complex planes can take 15 - 20 hours - simple planes can be 3 - 5 hours.

Here's what I charge:


I've had folks come to me and say that their last CI on a Varieze/Long-EZ/COZY cost them $150. I tell them that if they want a $150 CI, they'll need to go elsewhere, because at $115/hr. (as Ron also said, less than my mechanic charges me to work on my car), I can't spit at their plane for $150. A $150 CI on a Varieze/Long-EZ/COZY is a pencil whipped CI that means nothing from the standpoint of safety (which, theoretically, is what a CI is about, since you're signing off that the aircraft "is in a condition for safe operation"). I will refer you back to Bell Helmet's first full face helmet advertisement in the motorcycle magazines, in the late 1970's, when most helmets sold for $10 and were crap, and their helmet sold for $60 (and was NOT crap). They said:

"If you have a $10 head, get a $10 helmet".​

I have about 30 regular customers that come to me for CI's each year, and a number of new ones as well. All of them seem to feel that they're getting value for the $$$.

For the type of aircraft you've listed, I'd expect somewhere between $500 - $1000 for a CI, depending upon what's found, and whether it's the first time I've seen the plane, or the 4th, and whether you've performed all the recommended issue mitigations that we found in the first, second and third CI's :).
 

Wanttaja

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I'd go with what Marc says as gospel. MAYBE you can find someone to do it cheaper, but A&P time is cheaper than a varnished wooden box.

Ron Wanttaja
 

TFF

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There is only two circles. Buddy network and shop/ independent A&P.

Buddy network can be anything for cost. Shop/ independent is labor rate that they work for.

It’s very dependent on where you are located. Without the buddy network, $500-1000 like above is about average.
 

N804RV

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Mount Vernon, WA
I've always done all my own maintenance. I've never had trouble finding an A&P/IA to sign off my work until this year.

My friend has done the last 3 condition inspections for $100. This year, he's not available. And, I'm very worried about letting just anyone take pen and ink to the log books. What I don't want is some "certified airplane" guy to come in and hold my log books hostage.
 

JayKoit

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As Ron W. states, it will vary substantially based on the type of aircraft. Ron's Fly Baby might be a 3 hour job, but an RV, with about 8 zillion screws, is not. Neither are canards (which is what I specialize in, but not to the exclusion of anything else). Complex planes can take 15 - 20 hours - simple planes can be 3 - 5 hours.

Here's what I charge:


I've had folks come to me and say that their last CI on a Varieze/Long-EZ/COZY cost them $150. I tell them that if they want a $150 CI, they'll need to go elsewhere, because at $115/hr. (as Ron also said, less than my mechanic charges me to work on my car), I can't spit at their plane for $150. A $150 CI on a Varieze/Long-EZ/COZY is a pencil whipped CI that means nothing from the standpoint of safety (which, theoretically, is what a CI is about, since you're signing off that the aircraft "is in a condition for safe operation"). I will refer you back to Bell Helmet's first full face helmet advertisement in the motorcycle magazines, in the late 1970's, when most helmets sold for $10 and were crap, and their helmet sold for $60 (and was NOT crap). They said:

"If you have a $10 head, get a $10 helmet".​

I have about 30 regular customers that come to me for CI's each year, and a number of new ones as well. All of them seem to feel that they're getting value for the $$$.

For the type of aircraft you've listed, I'd expect somewhere between $500 - $1000 for a CI, depending upon what's found, and whether it's the first time I've seen the plane, or the 4th, and whether you've performed all the recommended issue mitigations that we found in the first, second and third CI's :).
Thanks Marc, I appreciate all the detailed info. When the time comes for my first CI after purchasing, I may come see you since I know it would be thorough, and time/money well spent (plus I'm in Agua Dulce CA, so not too far from Tehachapi)
 

Kyle Boatright

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I've always done all my own maintenance. I've never had trouble finding an A&P/IA to sign off my work until this year.

My friend has done the last 3 condition inspections for $100. This year, he's not available. And, I'm very worried about letting just anyone take pen and ink to the log books. What I don't want is some "certified airplane" guy to come in and hold my log books hostage.
If hostage logbooks are your concern, just have the A&P write up his/her findings on a sheet of paper and staple them in the logbooks. Adhesive stickers with A&P sign-off's and completed work are fine too. There is no need for the mechanic to ever take possession of your logbooks. Prior to the inspection, you can provide him all of the relevant data - hours, last oil change, hours since last mag rebuild, SB's complied with and when, etc. Again, there's no need/requirement that s/he ever touch your logbooks.
 

BBerson

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List doesn’t need to be affixed to the logbook unless the owner wants it. From 43.11 “must give the owner or lessee a signed and dated list of discrepancies.”
And from 91.417 “The owner shall retain… the list of defects…until repaired and returned to service.”
 

Marc Zeitlin

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List doesn’t need to be affixed to the logbook unless the owner wants it.
The ONLY stuff I give to the owner to paste into the logbooks are the work I performed (if any, since that's required by 14 CFR Part 91.417(a)(1) ) and the simple CI signoff as required by that aircraft's Operating Limitations. Outstanding issues, either safety or otherwise, if not addressed and listed as work in the logs, do not go in the logs.

From 43.11 “must give the owner or lessee a signed and dated list of discrepancies.”
But per 14 CFR Part 43.1(b)(1), Part 43 does not apply to Experimental aircraft. So the requirements of 43.11 don't apply.

Now, every CI report I provide has a list of issues, ranked by severity, and if there are any immediate safety issues, I just don't issue a CI signoff until the issues are mitigated, either by me or the owner. But I'm not REQUIRED to issue such an issues list, because <stated above>.

And from 91.417 “The owner shall retain… the list of defects…until repaired and returned to service.”
14 CFR Part 91.417(b)(3) specifically references 14 CFR Part 43.11, and since 43.11 doesn't apply, neither does 91.417(b)(3). The owner can do whatever they want with the list of issues I give them. If I signed off the CI, the plane's safe to fly, and if it isn't, I don't sign it off.

Now, since _I_ retain a copy of the issues, when the NEXT CI rolls around, I ask the owner what, of the stuff I recommended/required, they've completed, and I let them know (in the issues list) whether or not I'm willing to sign off the NEXT CI if they haven't completed the necessary ones. I've got a little bit of leverage :).

And with respect to turning over logbooks, the logs belong to the owner, not to me, and if I don't give them back to the owner, I imagine the local police would get involved. Other than not signing off the CI, I can't hold the logs hostage - it's not a TC'd aircraft.
 

BBerson

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Now, every CI report I provide has a list of issues, ranked by severity, and if there are any immediate safety issues, I just don't issue a CI signoff until the issues are mitigated, either by me or the owner. But I'm not REQUIRED to issue such an issues list, because <stated above>.
But does 91.417 (a) (1) require any entry in that aircraft record that the condition inspection was performed? (if the aircraft was found to not be in a condition for safe operation)
If not, I don’t see a need to make any entry in the owners log at all.
 

Dana

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$650 here. Semiretired traveling A&P/IA, works out of a minivan filled with tools. He lives a few states away (not that far in New England), usually schedules several inspections at the airport and stays in town for a few days. He only does owner assisted inspections and likes to teach and explain, he doesn't like the "just fix it and send me the bill" kind of pilot. He does the inspection, then types up and mails me the sticker when he gets back home.
 

Kyle Boatright

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And with respect to turning over logbooks, the logs belong to the owner, not to me, and if I don't give them back to the owner, I imagine the local police would get involved.
On the subject of holding logbooks ransom, my airport neighbor is an IA. One day I dropped by the airport around lunchtime to find two guys in a well used minivan with government plates holding court with him in his hangar. The subject was "You're not allowed to hold someone's logbooks hostage." My neighbor had a very convoluted explanation that he wasn't holding them hostage, he just <long story>...

The FAA guys (complete with badges) were unimpressed. They didn't take action, but strongly recommended he return the logbooks ASAP and pursue other means (i.e. the court system) if the owner hadn't paid him for his work.
 
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