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Thread: Need help dealing with local A&P

  1. #1

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    May 2019
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    Sad Need help dealing with local A&P

    I recently bought a plane without getting a pre-buy inspection. I trust and like my local maintenance shop so I had them change the oil and look over the books for me before closing. For the past few months they have made several small repairs for me as I "get the plane ready" to start using it. Through the owners' club I found a guy that annuals approximately 25 of this type per month (My shop sees one or two a year). It's a few hours away from me, but I thought it was a good idea to have an "expert" in the type give it a good solid annual so I could feel confident that everything is ship-shape. Well the chief mechanic at my shop did not take it well. He accused me of disloyalty and said if I didn't trust him once, I didn't trust him at all. He's refusing to look at my plane ever again. I had no idea he'd react this way, and I didn't do it in secret or on the sly. I looked at this as an intelligent decision by a new airplane owner, and wasn't trying to make any statement about how good my local shop is. I think they're an excellent shop, I frequently recommend them and speak highly of them at all times.

    I'm way too old to be playing these games. I'm not sure what my next move here is. Sure I can take it off-field to another shop (as long as I'm not broken on-site), but I'm friends with the shop owner and that might make it weird with him when he asks me about it. If I talk to the owner and force the A&P to fix it, he's still got control because if he wanted to he could find something "unairworthy" and park the plane so I can't use it. Or even fix it and find a bunch of "mystery gripes" to run up my bill. Or even just over-estimate the time he spent on it. My feeling is that he will cave if I grovel and plead and apologize and generally kiss his rear to get him to do it. I'm not sure that would go well with my personal dignity and self-respect. If I thought I did something wrong that's one thing. But I don't believe I did anything wrong. I'm a flight instructor and if someone came to me for mountain training I'd defer to someone with more experience in that area. I don't understand others who can't do the same.

    Prior to this incident I really liked and trusted this guy. No matter how this goes it won't be the same again between me and him. But I could use some suggestions on how to proceed.

  2. #2
    DaleB's Avatar
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    Find a mechanic that doesn't act like a child? Preferably one near enough that you can use his services regularly.
    Measure twice, cut once...
    scratch head, shrug, shim to fit.

    Flying an RV-12. Building a Fisher Celebrity.

  3. #3

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    I'd speak with the shop owner and go from there based on what he says and does.

    That said, I'd have a hard time going back to a mechanic who went off the deep end on me.

  4. #4

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    It is unfortunate to have hurt his feelings and take it to what you call an "expert". That implies he is not.
    Just curious, what did the "expert" find, if anything.
    In any case he doesn't want you as customer.

  5. #5

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    I would just take it elsewhere. And before every departure, announce to the on-field shop you are taking it elsewhere for maintenance.

  6. #6
    Glas467's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
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    No need to deal with an unprofessional mechanic, take it to the experts. You'll feel better about flying your plane after an expert eye gives it the once over.

    I bought a Glasair many years ago and insisted as part of the sale the aircraft be looked over by Phoenix Composites who were the hands down Glasair gurus at the time I bought the plane almost 20 years ago. It was about an hour's flight away and seller begrudgingly agreed. The experts found several minor discrepancies that over time could have become major ones, they fixed them all as part of the sale. I completed the transaction with the seller, then had the expert who did the prebuy, complete a condition inspection. I have never regretted the decision to go the "expert" route! Plus I learned a lot from the expert who did the inspection.

  7. #7

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    Jan 2019
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    A&P, IA, former shop owner here.... I just want to give some perspective from the other side of the table...... There are few things more irritating than constantly helping someone out, loaning them tools, a few screws, the air bottle for tires, telling them how to fix something on their own, stopping work when busy to be nice and chat.. etc etc. Maybe getting to do an oil change once in a while or something minor like replacing a static wick... the whole time being nice and super helpful to the customer. Multiply that by dozens of airplane owners at any given field and god help you if there is a big EAA chapter full of "Experts".

    And then the customer takes the plane elsewhere for the major MX event. It's a huge insult to the mechanic. He doesn't pay his guys and keep the doors open and pay the exorbiant rent and insurance bills on your little piddly jobs. I understand you want to take your plane to the guru's the first time out, but you probably could have handled it better. If I had a dollar for every hour some bored CFI wasted my time back in the Mx shop I'd be in the back of my GV on the way to Bali by now.

  8. #8
    Aviatrexx's Avatar
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    The solution, which you won't like, is obvious to me.

    Because he's on the field, you need to be on good terms with your mechanic. You need him to be glad to see you. Over the years I've rarely had my favorite A&P on my field and it's always a PITA when even little things go awry.

    Yes, your A&P is being petulant but he feels that you insulted him, and in his pocketbook to boot. (You did.) So go to him and sincerely apologize, and ask him to do a very thorough annual inspection on your aircraft. Fix whatever he says needs attention and don't whine. You need to demonstrate (from your pocketbook) that you do trust him.

    Then take it to the "expert" for another thorough inspection and see what, if anything, he finds. Whatever the expert does or does not find will tell you a lot about your local guy (he may be better than you think).

    While all work done on your aircraft must be logged, I know of no regulation that requires an inspection to be recorded. Ask that the expert's inspection to be done for your eyes only and "off-book". That way your mechanic won't see it later.

    Without putting too fine a point on it, had you done this in reverse order (expert inspection pre-buy, then a thorough annual by your mechanic) all this could have been avoided. Whatever it costs you to repair your relationship with your local mechanic will be a good investment.

  9. #9
    MEdwards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glas467 View Post
    No need to deal with an unprofessional mechanic, take it to the experts. You'll feel better about flying your plane after an expert eye gives it the once over.
    My experience is the same as Glas. After several successful years with a local mechanic friend, he was cutting back to go into another job. Same year I met an expert Bonanza mechanic, took the plane to him, and have been happy with my decision for many years since. The expert is three hours and a minor logistics effort away, but itís worth it. Total confidence is worth a lot. I have had others do an occasional annual and other work for various reasons, and theyíve been OK, but I keep going back. Iím taking the plane up for annual next Monday, as a matter of fact.

    A disadvantage is that if something needs immediate attention, iím not ďinĒ with a local mechanic and have to take what I can get in a small market. An advantage is iíve had to learn to do what I can and have been reasonably successful, and itís been fun and rewarding.

    Mike E

  10. #10

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    Oct 2011
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    I don't think the local A&P can ground your plane unless you hire him for an annual inspection. Outside of that event, you, the owner, get to determine its airworthiness on any given day.

    Your mountain flying analogy doesn't work, because the local A&P thinks he IS capable of doing your annual. Also, we are talking about his livelihood, whereas I assume flight instructing is not yours.

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