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Are Owner-Assisted Annual Inspections Allowed?

Photo of an aircraft annual inspection

I was recently asked if an "owner assisted annual" was a smart way to save time and money during the annual inspection of a certificated aircraft.  The attached link is to an excellent article from AOPA regarding the legality of a none FAA certified mechanic (ie., an owner) helping during the annual process and carefully outlines the distinction between inspection and preventive maintenance.

The inspection must be performed by an A&P with an Inspection Authorization (IA) , while the owner is authorized to accomplish any of the 32 items listed in Part 43, App A, Sub part (c).

The owner is clearly authorized to perform many of the maintenance tasks normally accomplished in conjunction with the annual inspection -- repack wheel bearings, clean spark plugs, check tire pressures, etc., but cannot participate in the inspection.  This sounds like a great way for a motivated owner to save money and learn more about his aircraft, if he's not afraid of getting his hands dirty!  The catch in my experience is in finding an IA  that is willing to participate in an owner assist annual.  Professional aviation maintenance shops have a lot of overhead dollars to tied up in insurance, tools and buildings, and work a tight schedule to generate the revenue to cover their costs.  Ergo, they are reluctant to bring an unknown quantity into their shop knowing that it will take extra time to teach the new person how to perform the preventive maintenance tasks.  For some shops, liability insurance is also an issue.

The owner assist annuals that I have seen work were based on a personal relationship between the IA and the owner, and were usually done in the owner's facility.  These inspections were accomplished by IAs that were either retired or were working in a non-aviation career field.  Ask around if you are interested in finding an IA who is receptive to an owner assisted annual, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Click here to read the AOPA article on this subject.

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Call or text Norm Rathje at 210-884-2559 or email