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Going Direct: The Glorious Insanity Of Airplane Ownership

For owners, the annual inspection is a time of great peril. We’d better make peace with it, too. Here’s why.

Aircraft Ownership

If you’re an airplane owner, you know the feeling. Every year at annual inspection time, you experience repetitive stress syndrome in your index and middle fingers while you wait for the call from the shop on “the damages.”

For those of you who own, or have owned, an airplane, the reason for this level of anxiety is obvious. The cost of an annual is, well, whatever it winds up being. When my 182 went into the shop for its one and only annual inspection while I owned it, I hoped for something $2,500-ish. Multiply it by three, and you get what the six-week exercise actually cost. Add in a dozen or more phone calls, the same number of emails (most unanswered), a couple of, “We’re gonna take a look at something that might be wrong with fill-in-the-blank,” and you get why I was thrilled it was less than $8,000. I was lucky, too. And for owners of twin turbine-powered aircraft, the $8,000 is the cost of the shop opening the hangar doors at the outset. Oh, and don’t forget engines. Need a new one? That might wind up costing you the better part of $25,000, and there are so many things that can go wrong with them.

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