Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Caring For Your Aircraft

Part I: Advice from the top engine shops

What about the factory?
Bill Ross, TCM’s Manager of Technical Product Support, says, “It’s a misconception that the factory is the most expensive option to re-engine your aircraft.” He cites advantages of factory engines: new clearances rather than service limits, zero time status (no history), and no core charge surprises with factory engines. “Plus, he says, apples to apples, the factory-new or rebuilt option isn’t more expensive, especially when it’s time to sell your aircraft.”

Mike Caldera, Lycoming’s product support manager and himself a pilot, knows that situations vary among pilots and airplanes. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to both the published guidance and to how regularly you fly, and particularly to how you prepare your engine for periods of inactivity.

“We have published TBOs, but we also want you to do your flying in 12 years or less—and to do your flying on a regular basis,” Caldera says. “As I get older and end up flying less myself, I pay more attention to corrosion, to rust, and I keep my eyes open for changes, especially in oil consumption.”

Mike Everhart, Lycoming’s director of distribution management and customer service says, “I would much rather see an airplane used consistently, even for shorter hours. Everyone knows that’s true, but it rarely changes their flying patterns.”

Howard G. Van Bortel, President of Air Power (, sells more Lycomings and Continentals than anyone else, and also finances engines. “Factory engines are the best-kept secret in general aviation,” he says. “They increase the value of your aircraft, have the highest content of new parts, and are the only engines that are accepted in every country in the world. Only the factory complies with every AD, SB, Service Instruction and Service Letter, as well as incorporates all the latest product improvements and engineering changes. The quality, experience and financial strength of the original manufacturer provide peace of mind to the owners that fly behind these engines.” Van Bortel is concerned that pilots wait too long to address engine issues: “Most people change engines only when they have a big problem. When something is this important to your flying, to your safety, why wait until it breaks?”

As spring is upon us, it’s a good idea to have a particularly good look at the logbook and, Lycoming advises, be realistic about how well we prepared our engines last fall. Assuming you followed Service Letter 180 last fall, you can follow the springtime recommendations in Service Instruction 1472 to get back into service. Otherwise, look for evidence of corrosion or seal break-down that may have occurred during the months of inactivity.


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