Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cessna 182 Annual Inspection

Well, I just got through another aircraft annual on my airplane. This is one of the big yearly items that ends up with unplanned costs. Once again, it cost more than I planned and around $3800, and I did some things to reduce cost. I am starting to think that annuals in my plane will cost around that as long as I am flying it around 120 hours a year. In fairness, the annual inspection was closer to $1200, but fixing and other periodic maintenance added up to maybe $2600.

Expected Items This Year

This year, I expected to do the standard annual plus do the 500 hour service on my magnetos. I also had decided to change my spark plugs with some cheap plugs from Air Power Inc instead of clean and regap; although in the end, I saved the new plugs for later. I also wanted to fix the battery jump connect which I had recently found to have a problem; this was a simple fix.

500 Hour Magneto Service

This year it was time to look at doing the 500 hour magneto service. I had heard some large numbers from one mechanic for repairing the magnetos. The local mechanic doing my annual said he could repair the magnetos, and it sounded a little cheaper. But I decided to send my magnetos off to Andy Richards in Auburn, CA at Power Aviation Services. He is relatively new at Power Aviation Services, but he has been doing magnetos for a long time with a great reputation at Sierra Magneto and other places. I have heard good things from people in Cessna Pilots Association of him. The price was right, he worked on them right away, and explained what needed to be repaired with some possible options. He was very friendly and very professional. I would highly recommend Andy when you need your magnetos done. The average magneto repair is $200 a piece, but was a little more for me. I think this was one place that saved me money.

Unexpected Items This Year

I had few unexpected items. I had a cylinder with an exhaust valve leak to fix, a crack in the spinner bulkhead, a carburator heat valve fix, a crack in the baffling, a crack in the cowling near the propeller. These all added up especially the bad exhaust valve and cracked spinner bulkhead.

Bad Exhaust Valve and Cylinder Repair Again

One big surprise this year was a bad exhaust valve on cylinder #1; this was especially surprising since I fixed it last year. I thought initially that the cylinder shop would cover part of the repair since it was the second time they repaired it. The cylinder shop now says it will not cover it. They believe it had to do with the way I ran the engine although they do not have a clear problem with how I ran it; just minor thoughts. I ran it pretty standard with 75 Rich of Peak, 67% horse power or lower during cruise, and maintaining CHTs below 390 with the use of a EI UBG-16 engine monitor. I am still trying to figure this out. Most people have indicated the problem was probably the previous repair. Another cylinder shop mentioned that it could be a localized heat problem even if the CHT prove for that cylinder never got above 390 degrees. The 2nd cylinder shop mentioned to look carefully at the baffling. The initial looks at baffling look ok by my A&P. The main thing I want is to not have this occur again.

Cracked Spinner Bulkhead

The spinner bulkhead was found to be cracked near the bolts. This is the back part that the spinner bolts onto. It was just a small hairline crack at this point and not obvious. But it could become large and become a real problem. This was looking to be potentially a very expensive repair; maybe $2000 of parts.

The current part had been superceded twice (0752637-1 superceded by 0752637-17 superceded by 0752637-27) and the new part needs extra additional parts (2 of 0550341-1). I found this out by finding the initial part number in a Cessna Parts manual. Some free Cessna Parts Manual can be found here. I found the new part prices and the superceded information with the Premier Aircraft On-line Catalog. Through my double checks, I found it a little cheaper than the FBO, but similar.

The initial checks by the FBO did not find the used parts, so I started looking. There is a long salvage yard list on the Cessna Pilots Association list. I emailed everybody on the list, and I did find one 0752637-17 at Preferred Airparts who have an on-line used inventory search, but it needs extra parts. Later, I did find another part for $200 from Faeth Aircraft, but it was too late.

In the end, the best option was to repair the spinner bulkhead. Cessna Pilots Association informed me of a place that was authorized by the FAA to repair them. K&K Precision Welding was able to repair the bulkhead for around $400 which included a yellow tag. This repair method saved me about $1400.

Other Repairs the Past 4 Years

I have heard that the first few annuals after buying a plane can be expensive. I think I bought a reasonably well taken care of plane, so I was not sure if the I was going to be hit by this. The initial inspections and maintenance were higher than I expected, but they have not come down too much. Usually around $3000.

Here is a list of some of the items I have fixed in the past 4 years: exhaust repair, other carburator heat repairs, aileron rod repair, new engine mounts, new brake linings, nose strut resealing, new battery, new tires, new ELT battery, new landing lights, overhauling the attitude indicator, fixing the VOR indicator, new baffling, new alternator due to worn mounts, crankshaft seal, and pitot-static checks. All of these items did not cause any serious concerns for immediate airworthiness, but needed to be fixed.

I have also had some improvements I have done which of course add to the yearly costs as well.


After having 4 annuals inspections and maintenance that have been around $2500-$4000, I think I will start planning on at least $3000. If it ends up less, I will count myself lucky. It is easier to have it work in this direction than the other.

Cessna Pilots Association and taking Mike Busch's Savvy Aviator Seminar definitely helped me keep my costs down. It could have been much worse. I would also recommend both of these items for owners.



Thomas said...

Hi Brian - I have a C182 and live in Chicago. All of a sudden, I am having a problem where I am loosing oil out of the breather tube... it was about 4 quarts out over a 4 hour trip. Mechanic is suggesting the crankshaft seal replacement - I saw that you had yours replaced - Do you remember any details on it and why you had to do it?

Brian said...

If I remember correctly about my case, I had a slight oil leak near the seal. I have not had the problem of loosing oil out the breather tube yet. Good luck with that.


Don Shade said...

Hi Brian, Thanks for sharing your maintenance experiences--my engine has 1,200+ hours on it SMOH and I am just now installing a JPI engine monitor and GAMIs. This is to squeeze a little more life out of the engine and get some experience more closely monitoring EGT, CHT, FF before my next overhaul.

(your hangar neighbor)

Ernie said...

I've always heard that mtce will generally be cheaper on cessnas, compared to newer type planes (I am considering a diamond DA40 vs the 182). based on your account, doesnt seem like this is necessarily true. I would've understood if the first annual was in 3-4000 range, but consistently for 4 years? (and I know you take care of your plane!)
anyways, thanks for your blog. I've found it to be very informative :-)

Brian said...

I think a Cessna 172 more compares with a DA40 for engine size, weight capacity, etc. I think it would be cheaper to maintain, but I don't know for sure. I also hope that the next annual will be cheaper, but I am not counting on it.


Robert from Texas said...

Great post. I am a part owner of a C182 and I learned a lot from your experience. Thanks for posting and making this contribution to the aviation community.

Bahamas Cruise said...

very interesting article. Last summer I was in Bahamas Cruise via ECT and I enjoyed from many fantastic Views and the nature. now my dream is to see all this from the plane height. said...

Wow! I've had my 182 since 2004 and annuals have run, on average, about $400.00 a year. My big repair bill was to have both tanks replaced, and the prop governor overhauled. Do you run AvBlend in your plane?

Brian said...

I guess it is key to look at costs in your local area. I think mine are fairly average for a metropolitan area. If you are California, it will be higher. If you are in a rural area it could be lower. Our shop rate is $70/hour, and hangars are around $290/month. That can be a quick guage.

Glenn E. Reynolds said...

I also used to have the annual "guess which cylinder we are replacing this year" game, but then I changed my red line for cylinder head temperature to 375. After reading your blog where you note that you observe a redline of 390 I would acknowledge that 15 degrees is not a very big reduction, but I do run lean rich and lean of peak, but all at less than 65% power, which ever will give me max speed, lowest fuel burn, smooth engine and less than 375 CHT. It's been three years since I've had to service a cylinder so who knows? I did upgrade to the new insight monitor which has vibration analysis and that helps finding a smooth setting.

Brian said...

Well, I have the cylinder repair under control now. I haven't had a replacement in two years. I have changed a few things so it is hard to know for sure what did it. I am doing Camguard at oil changes now. I am also operating much richer during climbs. I found the EGT temperature for my plane at sea level and at full power, and I keep my climb EGT below that. I had heard this recommendation, but it was hard for me to do since I don't go to sea level often with my home airport at 5000' MSL. This was 100 degrees lower than before and is richer than most people do in my area (at 5000' MSL airport). My cruise has always been fairly rich and my cylinder temperatures have always been low. What I am doing is working, so I am going to keep with it.

Brian said...

Oh. I also operate at 65% during cruise only now. Also aim for 75 degrees rich of peak. If it saves me on cylinders, it is worth it.

Anonymous said...

If you're paying $400 / year for your annuals, then you're just getting pencil-whipped logbooks. An annual on a 182 by an experienced IA will take at least 20 hours.... No exceptions....

avei said...

I don't think this is true. It depends on the IA and your relationship with him. If he does the maintenance on the aircraft throughout the year, then the annual really becomes an inspection as part of the progressive inspection/maintenance program. I've owned my C182 since 1990 as the second owner. My annuals ran around $300-$400 plus any needed repairs for new discrepancies. When I moved to a new state with highly restrictive laws for A&Ps, my annual costs skyrocketed to $900, mainly due to state regulation and taxes. I will be moving back to my old state because of all this regulation and taxing which contributes nothing to aircraft maintenance but does contribute to cost and availability.

When I take my airplane in for inspection, I generally know exactly what to expect. The stuff I can take care of under AC43-12A (owner preventive maintenance) are all taken care of, with fresh oil and filter, oil sample analysis in hand. Tires, brake linings, bearings repacked are all done in advance. I use aviation grade stuff, Mil Spec parts, etc. Wag Aero, Aircraft Spruce, Wicks for new stuff and shop/hangar supplies, Wentworth and Precision for used stuff.

While the IA does the 100 hour inspection, I know pretty much what to expect, as I do check plugs and compressions when I change the oil.

What you are paying for for the inspection component is an AD compliance update and check, 100 hour inspection and airframe inspection. I have had a pencil whipped $1200 annual where I know the IA didn't so much as remove an inspection plate because I found a airworthiness discrepancy a month later when I put new carpet in the airplane. That type of inspection is a fool me once deal. Something that is part of the Cessna Maintenance manual inspection checklist. These are the reasons I do my own inspections before I go to the IA, and I know my IA very well.