Why to Flunk an Inspection

Yesterday I attended a very insightful FAA Safety webinar titled "How to Flunk an Annual Inspection"*.

Since most service centers will repair items to meet inspection standards, you'll likely need to specifically ask them to fail your inspection.

And you're asking, why on Earth would you ever want to fail?

What I Learned:
You can ask the Inspector or service center to put things back together and fail the inspection. When that happens, you'll get a special note in the aircraft logbook that essentially says that the aircraft owner was presented with the list of discrepancies.

With this, the inspection is now officially complete and not due for another 12 months.  yay!

And now you can take this list of discrepancies to:

  • a specialist for particular repair, like for the airframe
  • another mechanic for a lower price
  • another service center for a second opinion
  • your hangar to make repairs yourself (if it's one of those permissible types of repairs like a flat tire)
If your alternative mechanic or specialist is at another airport, you can get a ferry permit from the FAA from the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) then fly there. My understanding is that it's not a big deal to obtain and there's flexibility.

You do have to have the discrepancies addressed. If another mechanic determines a repair is indeed not necessary, such as a manufacturer's recommendation or replacement service bulletin that's isn't required by the FAA, then they can sign off stating that repair/replacement was not performed and the airplane is airworthy. voila!

For the non-owners reading this, regulations state that ...no person may operate an aircraft unless, within the preceding 12 calendar months, it has had an annual inspection ... and has been approved for return to service by a person authorized [to do so]. Whether your airplane needs it or not, you must have your airplane opened up and thoroughly inspected if you plan to fly it. It's much more intrusive than a car inspection which tests exhaust and basic safety like lights and brakes. Annual inspections range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the type of airplane, the condition it's in, and the service center's baseline fee for an inspection.

For us, we know there's an airworthiness directive that needs to be addressed and a few things that need repair.

Our airplane is being examined this week for its annual inspection. Stay tuned for details!

*Thanks to Mike Busch from Savvy Aircraft Maintenance Management for presenting!

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