VG-21 Squadron

Maintenance Items

(by Lee Beery )

One of the favorite subjects in aviation magazines is “owner performed maintenance.” Please read the article on the subject in the October issue of “Plane & Pilot”. You read the article? Great. Now let me add my two cents worth of wisdom. In other words, what affect this action has on your mechanic and IA (Inspector(. Now I am speaking for myself, but I think most A&Ps and lAs would be in basic agreement with me and that is, no one should touch a plane without having basic knowledge of the FARs . It is a huge book loaded with information and I don’t pretend to know all of the contents. After all these years, I still seek out fellow mechanics as it is impossible to know everything.

Over the past 19 years, there have been at least 30 or more different VG-21 aircraft at the Varga Service Center for some sort of maintenance which we think is great. The problem is, there have been a few (very few) aircraft that the owner maintenance boarded on the insane. Think of the position this owner puts his mechanic in. At my end of this, the discovery end, is simple. We fix it correctly or I give you a ride to the bus station! Now mind you, what I see is a very small percentage of the VG-21 fleet but I do hear from owners that are proud of the illegal maintenance. In fact, when two individuals wanted to join and boasted about engine changes, etc. with no FAA approval, we denied their request. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the aircraft owner knowing what makes his plane a safe machine but the truth is, not all owners should own a screwdriver. Here is the worst of the story. Some mechanics have no backbone at all and are willing to go along with the owner’s demands for fear of losing the almighty dollar.

Will this situation change? Probably not. I don’t think the FAA sees this as a big problem. If the FAA would only allow someone like an IA to certify qualified owners with mechanic skills to do their preventive maintenance, I think the “shade tree mechanic” problem would go away. Don’t get me wrong, many of the owners I have worked with are very good mechanics. I don’t claim to be the authority on this subject but I have been an active aircraft mechanic for over 50 years.