Changing light aviation

For years the light aviation maintenance market has been beset with a challenge that the automotive industry wouldn’t tolerate. Simply put, every car has to pass it’s MOT, and there’s no skirting round the issues – it passes or fails. Theoretically it is the same for the aircraft industry – except it isn’t! If safety has such implications for road users, how much more are the implications when a pilot and passengers are 2000 ft up! And yet, there are many in the light aviation field, both pilots and maintenance companies that are prepared to ‘get away with’ or ‘allow’ shoddy workmanship due to cost implications. “What’s the minimum I can get away with?” is rife in the industry.

Additionally, the cost per maintenance hour is extremely low compared with the cost per hour of a car dealership which can be in the region of £100+ per hour. Light aviation maintenance costs are nowhere near that, and much of the costs to the customer is due to the high prices of the parts required. Price structures are also ‘murky’ in as much as the final price of the maintenance is given as a ‘fait accompli’ at the end of the job. The cost is, what the cost is – very little explanation, and virtually no involvement of the customer in that procedure.

It’s time to change the status quo.

‘Better the devil you know’ can no longer be the reason to stay with a maintenance company. Consumers generally do not tolerate bad service from Utility companies, Financial organisations or Retailers. So why should you tolerate poor service in such a vital area as aviation maintenance?  Customers need to shop around and ask questions for their own protection.

Here are 10 points you should be looking for:
  1. Does the maintenance company have a clear pricing structure that details what is included and what is not?
  2. Are you SURE all the maintenance work was necessary?
  3. Are you sure the work is always done to a high standard?
  4. Does the company tell you up front what the price will be and then stick to it?
  5. Do they involve you in the process before they do the work? (or do they just do it and present the invoice to you).
  6. Are there unexplained ‘Misc’ charges on the invoice?
  7. Are you always querying the invoice charge? (or just having to accept it as a fact of life)
  8. Do you find that your aircraft often needs something doing to it between the regular 50 hour checks?
  9. Can you minimise the risk of changing maintenance company? (what do other customers say about the company?)
  10. Can you contact a maintenance company’s customers to verify first hand that what they say is true? (or is it just words on a website?)

Your responses to these questions may well prompt a need to try out another maintenance company. If so, make sure you get clear answers to all these questions first, then you can move with confidence.

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