Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Caring For Your Aircraft

Part I: Advice from the top engine shops

If you ignored proper engine prep last fall, at least drain and change all the fluids and filters, double-check the cylinders with a borescope, and do a compression check. Go over everything, looking for corrosion, loose parts, birds’ nests and anything else that can possibly go wrong because of extended nonuse.

Extending Engine Life
Of course, we’d all like to make a “major” an infrequent event, and keep it as far in the future as practical. The best life-extension practices include fastidious adherence to the manufacturer’s (or overhauler’s) instructions, paying special attention to oil changes and filter analysis, periodic adjustment and an absolute refusal on our parts to letting any bad trend continue.

Environmentals, too, play a part—indoor or outdoor storage? Dusty, salty, dry or humid? What corrosion treatments do we use, and how well/how often do we employ them? Are all the supporting systems (baffling, cable routing, the fit of cowl panels) in perfect order?

Perhaps the most important factors involve our flying habits. How much attention do we pay to proper warm-up? Do we avoid thermal shocks? In flight, are we entranced with watching the moving map, or are we noting what our engine monitoring systems are telling us? Do we periodically sit down with our mechanics and review our comprehensive logs?

Bottom line: The best way to reach TBO and beyond is to maintain engines by the book, pay attention, and fly far, fast and often. Twist my arm!

Engine Financing:

One advantage of a factory engine, Howard Van Bortel says, is that you can get it financed. He knows: His company, Air Power, isn’t only the largest distributor of TCM and Lycoming engines, it finances the purchases of new, factory-overhauled and factory-remanufactured engines as well. Loans starting at $17,000 and up to 90% of the aircraft’s value can be secured by Air Power, and are backed by a major lending consortium. Terms are up to 20 years, low fixed-interest rates, zero-down payments and no prepayment penalties. While you’re financing the engine, it’s also possible to finance other major upgrades: avionics, propeller and interior, for example. For a complete list of prices including payments, visit


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