Maintenance Matters

January 2009 Issue

Owner Survey: Maintenance Quality

Owners think parts prices are too high, but the majority say what shops charge is fair. Work quality varies.

Is the aircraft maintenance industry broken? Or do we just like to carp about how hard and expensive it is to get an airplane fixed? To put numbers on these questions, we published a survey in our online publication, asking about maintenance experience and opinions. A total of 455 pilots and owners contacted us, the vast majority of which (88.2 percent) operate single-engine piston aircraft of some type. There were a smattering of piston twin and turboprop operators, too. Our survey revealed that 97.1 percent of owners actively participate in their aircraft maintenance, either managing it or turning wrenches. No surprise there. Slightly fewer, 78.2 percent, told us they regularly perform preventive maintenance such as changing oil and spark plugs. Also not surprising is that owners think the price of parts is too high but, interestingly, the majority think the cost of labor is fair. (We didn’t expect that, frankly.) The chart at right summarizes some of the survey’s findings. One other surprise is that getting parts is a big enough hassle to represent a major maintenance challenge for owners.

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