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Choosing The Right MRO For Your Pre-Buy Inspections

By Mike Saathoff – Director of Estimating and Paint and Interior Sales
Elliott Aviation

Whether you are buying or selling an aircraft, a pre-buy can be a hassle; but it shouldn’t be if you secure a solid, non-biased MRO. Just as you would when you buy or sell a house, pre-buy inspections are a must to protect both parties in the transaction. There are a few key items to help make the process smoother. Whether you are the broker, buyer, or the seller, keeping the sale moving forward is important. Paperwork, airworthiness, scheduled items and coming to an agreement are all part of the pre-buy process. Let’s discuss these key items and how to keep all parties in mind.

Choosing a Broker:
Be selective and do your research when choosing an aircraft broker. Do they have integrity? Can you trust them? Will they have your best interest in mind? Find a broker you are comfortable with and one you can trust. Look for someone with experience and knowledge of aircraft sales. This person should be able to see all sides and assists you with the best possible outcome.

Choosing a Maintenance Provider:
Ensure the facility that is performing the pre-buy inspection or any facility that maintains the aircraft has industry longevity, as well as experience in executing pre-buys for the type of aircraft you are purchasing. Make sure the facility has a history of working on the aircraft model. As a buyer or seller, competitive pricing plays a role in your pre-buy inspection. Always keep in mind that cheaper doesn’t always mean you are getting a deal. Make sure the facility you are working with is using solid quality standards to ensure they are keeping the aircraft airworthy but not going to extremes. Either extreme can be very costly to the buyer or seller. Trust in a company to do a thorough inspection in an acceptable downtime is key.

The Pre-Buy Inspection:
Keep the sale moving. To ensure a sale continues to move forward, reviewing logbooks is a meticulous effort. Having all necessary paperwork in order can help the process along and is highly beneficial. Knowing who maintained the aircraft, if the aircraft always stayed on schedule, how many hours the aircraft has flown per year, and has the aircraft sat idle or extended periods of time are all questions a pre-buy inspection addresses, and this helps to ensure airworthiness.

Other items to be completed during a pre-buy are any scheduled maintenance events. Next, the facility needs to determine if there are burn certificates for the interior, if new paint is due, if the aircraft is on a current inspection program; these are all questions that must be answered. If the current warranty allows, a thorough engine review is done both on paperwork and a boroscope. The facility should conduct an external review of the aircraft for any obvious defects, specifically windows and boots. Brake wear checks and fuel tank external leak checks are other items performed.

Most importantly, you want to find a non-biased facility who will ensure the aircraft is properly inspected and repaired in accordance with maintenance standards, but not one looking to “rebuild” the aircraft.

Lastly, it is up to the buyer and seller to come to terms on an agreement of who should pay for what necessary or optional items. A solid, non-bias broker will be highly beneficial in this process and assist with maintaining what would be fair to all parties.

Mike Saathoff has been with Elliott Aviation since July of 1996. He has performed various roles within the company, including Maintenance Team Leader, Assistant Chief Inspector, Maintenance Sales Manager, Director of Maintenance Sales and most recently Senior Director of Sales. Mike Saathoff is currently our Director of Sales Support and Paint & Interior Sales.

3rd Class Medical Reform - What You Need to Know

Recently, I wrote about some new legislation that had come into effect in April about Student Pilot Certificates.  This seems to be a banner year for the FAA as a new piece of legislation, centered around the 3rd Class Medical was recently signed into law by the President.  This particular piece of legislation has been a long time coming and allows more people the ability to exercise the privileges of their Private Pilot certificate even if they have run/will run into medical issues.

A Law 37 Years in the Making…

As early as 1979, the American Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has been petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an extension in validity of a 3rd Class Medical from two years to three years.  AOPA continued to advocate for pilots with medical issues by proposing to create a recreational, or sport pilot, certificate.

The development of the sport pilot certificate took over a decade and allowed a pilot to fly aircraft in the sport category with only a valid driver’s license instead of having to hold a 3rd Class Medical.  Pilots have been using the sport pilot certificate for over 10 years now and the journey towards a reformed 3rd Class Medical started in earnest back in 2012.

Interest Groups Hard at Work…

AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) first petitioned the FAA back in early 2012 to allow pilots seeking a 3rd Class Medical exemption to fly under the following conditions:

  • Day Visual Flight Rules (VFR)
  • Fixed gear
  • Single engine
  • Up to four seats
  • 180 horsepower engine
  • Fly no higher than 10,000 feet Mean Sea Level (MSL) or 2,000 feet Above Ground Level (AGL)
  • Carry no more than one passenger

Later, in September of the same year, the FAA closed the question period – this is referred to as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) which lasts 90 days.  There were over 16,000 comments filed under this particular NPRM with the general consensus that thousands of pilots were in favor of a 3rd Class Medical Reform.  However, despite introducing the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA) into the House in December of that year, there was a long wait ahead for the aviation community.

The GAPPA expanded on the AOPA-EAA petition to allow pilots to carry more passengers (up to 5), fly a six-seat aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds under VFR conditions.  In March of 2013, the GAPPA legislation was finally introduced into the Senate.

The FAA Process…

Over the next several months, the FAA began a process to review the current 3rd Class Medical rules and processes.  This process was dubbed as the “Private Pilot Privileges Without a Medical Certificate”.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the FAA medical certification process was full of major flaws including technological issues, lack of clarity and inappropriate standards.

As 2014 went on, the GAPPA gained 100 sponsors in the House, and 10 in the Senate making it a very strongly supported piece of legislation.  Later that summer, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that a rule to reform the 3rd Class Medical process was being presented to the Department of Transportation (DOT).  The DOT had 90 days to review the rule before making a decision.  EAA and AOPA continued to appeal to the DOT to quickly review the rule along with many others in both the Senate and the House that were co-sponsoring the GAPPA – however, the review was never fully completed.

In December of 2014, the 114th Congress came to an end with no progress on GAPPA and it then expired.  Not one to be beaten, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBR2) was introduced into both the House and the Senate in 2015 that included the 3rd Class Medical reform which included what the GAPPA had introduced but also added the ability to fly in IFR conditions along with VFR.  Between June and July of 2015, over 140,000 calls were made to elected officials encouraging support of the PBR2.  Support in the House and Senate for the bill grows to over 160 co-sponsors. 

All the persistence paid off when the PBR2 passed the Senate by unanimous consent on December 15, 2015.  3rd Class Medical reform language is introduced as a part of FAA reauthorization and other laws and legislation on and off again throughout 2016.  Then, the big day comes when in July of 2016, the FAA funding bill is passed in both the House and senate including language for 3rd Class Medical reform.  By July 15, 2016, the law was signed by President Obama singling the end of a very long process by advocacy groups, the FAA, and Congress.

So, What Does This Mean for Pilots?

After doing some research, it doesn’t appear that the rule will go into effect for another year.  The FAA will be going through the rulemaking process which could take up to one year.  In the meantime, here are the important facts about the 3rd Class Medical allowances:

  • Aircraft: Up to 6 seats, no greater than 6,000 pounds, and covered (unlike the previous iterations, no restrictions on complexity, horsepower, etc.) – sorry folks, no biplanes
  • Flight rules: Day/Night VFR and IFR
  • Passengers:  Up to 5
  • Aeromedical:  Pilots must take a free online aeromedical course every two years
  • Altitude:  Up to 18,000 feet
  • Airspeed:  No greater than 250 knots indicated airspeed
  • Pilot:  A pilot cannot fly for compensation or hire

Pilots looking to take advantage of this new rule need only to have a valid U.S. driver’s license and have had held a medical certificate (regular or special issuance) in the last 10 years from the date the legislation became law.

Are You Effected by the New Law?

Are you, the reader, benefiting from this new legislation?  What’s your story or thoughts?   Feel free to leave a comment with stories and/or comments on the 3rd Class Medical reform.  

More information about the reform can be found at www.AOPA.org and www.FederalRegister.gov.

Images courtesy of GoogleImages.com and the writer.

 

 

Are You Working SMARTer?

There’s an old saying: “Work smarter, not harder.”  I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that, or I’ve had to tell myself that.  It’s so easy for me to get into the rut of approaching a goal from a disorganized process – it becomes an arduous process that has little to no intrinsic value, seems to drag on forever, and ultimately becomes a discouraging and frustrating process.  Today I’ll cover a common (or is it?) approach to accomplishing goals that has helped me to work SMARTer and not harder.

What Are SMART Goals? – A little history

In the early 19th century, a fellow by the name of Elbert Hubbard, a renowned American philanthropist, observed that many individuals would fail in their endeavors.   He concluded that they failed not because they had little intelligence or where with all, but because they failed to organize their efforts around a goal.  However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that a new method arrived in the form of SMART goals.

Later, in 1981, we find the first record of the SMART acronym written down in a paper published by George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company entitled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”. While the SMART acronym words have changed over the years, the overall concept has remained the same – it approaches goals in an organized fashion to maximize one’s efforts.  So, let’s dive into SMART with some definitions and some examples.

S Stands for “Specific”

I like to equate the first step in the SMART process to choosing a topic for that thesis.  You may love airplanes, but you can’t just write on every airplane.  It’s hard to write an exhaustive paper with such a subject that folks can read in its entirety before falling asleep.

In the same way, a goal must be very specific.  Too broad and you find yourself getting frustrated because you don’t seem to make much progress – too narrow and you may not be feeling very challenged or accomplished.

A good example of a specific goal is to say: “My goal is to get my Instrument Rating.”  An example of a non-specific goal is: “I want to fly.”  The difference is that a specific goal has a narrow focus, i.e., the Instrument Rating, as opposed to a general want to fly.

So, let’s run with the goal of an Instrument Rating for the rest of our SMART process.

M Stands for “Measurable”

To be measureable, a goal should be shaped in such a way as to measure success or progress.  For instance, when training for an instrument rating, you should be able to measure your success upon completing the hours of training, completing ground school, or taking the written and practical exam (and passing).

Too often we get into a rut where we’re working on some project, but don’t really have a way to measure what we’ve accomplished, or not accomplished.  This could be especially challenging when studying for the Instrument written exam, but perhaps try approaching it by measuring your progress based on what chapters or sections you have studied.  It might help to break the study guide into sections and measure your progress that way.

 

A Stands for “Attainable”

I often feel like this third step should really be somewhere closer to the beginning of the acronym just because it could save you a lot of time and grief.  That being said, it is an important step, regardless of where it is placed.

Having a goal that is attainable in the first place is crucial in your success in accomplishing a goal.  For instance, you really can’t make a goal to get your Instrument Rating if you don’t even have your Private Pilot’s License (PPL) yet.  If you find yourself in that position of needing one thing to make another goal happen, this might be the point to go back to the beginning and further narrow the specificity of your goal.

For instance, “My goal is to get my PPL, so I can get my Instrument Rating.”  Now you have your true starting point, which is getting that PPL.  This narrowed focus allows you to discover the underlying action items for a particular goal, or to realize that one goal is really subset of another goal.

R Stands for “Realistic”

This goal seems to go hand-in-hand with the previous goal, but not always.  This step really seems to fit into the phrase “time and money.”  For instance, you may have the time (it’s attainable), but you may not have the money (it’s not realistic).  I actually experienced this the first year I was at the University of North Dakota (UND). 

I had the time to get my Instrument, and eventually my Commercial Ratings, but I didn’t have the money.  So, while my goal was specific, measureable and attainable, it wasn’t realistic because dollar bills really do make an airplane fly.  If you get to this point and realize your goal isn’t realistic, it’s very important to not get discouraged and give up.  It really means that you need to further narrow your focus into something a little more specific.

Now, I can speak from experience that giving up something as enjoyable and rewarding as flying is not easy.  However, finding an alternate path, maybe a diversion of sorts, is a very smart option.  When I realized this, I chose to switch degree programs from Commercial Aviation to Airport Management.  This switch kept me in the field of aerospace and aviation, and I found that I really enjoy the business side of aviation, but I still get my dose of being an aviation nerd.  I also found out I love being around airports almost as much as being in the airplane.

I haven’t given up flying altogether, but I’ve adjusted my course to include those additional flight ratings down the road when that goal becomes more realistic.

T Stands for “Time-Bound”

Lastly, we come to having our goals being time-bound. 

Let’s start with a bad example of this: “I want to get my Instrument Rating sometime in the future.”  Now, we can see right away this is going to be a problem.  This gets us into the mindset that we’ll finish it sometime, and then sometime comes and we still haven’t made any progress.  This is frustrating, to say the least, and really is a hindrance to accomplishing some very specific goals.  A lack of a deadline actually keeps great people from accomplishing great things!

Now, a good example of a time-bound goal is: “I want to get my Instrument Rating by next June.”  Now, this is good!  You have a rough date and you know what you need to do to accomplish this goal.  You can further break down this goal by planning to take the ground school for 7 weeks in the fall, start your actual flight instruction after that, and then schedule your written exam in early spring, and practical exam by June.  You could further be specific by putting in actual dates and updating your progress as you go in addition to deciding how much time per week (or day) to spend working towards that goal.

The great thing is, you can be very flexible as long as you don’t get into the habit of doing something maybe someday.

Work SMARTer, Not Harder

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the SMART process is a fail-proof method, but it has been very successfully used by individuals, management, and corporations alike.  However, you can’t just plug things in and go.  You need to commit to following a goal through and periodically reevaluating your progress as you go and make changes as needed.

So, do you have a goal that you used the SMART process on that you’d like to share with our readers?  Feel free to comment below with your story and how you used the SMART method.

Happy SMART Planning!

Images courtesy of Google.com.

You Know You're A Minnesota Pilot When...

Being a huge fan of Minnesota (born and raised, ya sure, you betcha) I’m pretty sure that Minnesota pilots are a special breed.  As summer is just around the corner, I’ll be highlighting some Minnesota-type flying activities that you’re sure to find those Minnesota-inclined pilots heading too when the days get longer and warmer.

Your Saturdays Consist of Coffee, Donuts, & Safety

Let’s face it:  safety should be our #1 focus in aviation.  While we may not all practice what we preach, there’s a long-time tradition of mixing coffee, donuts, and safety all into a fun Saturday tradition in the Twin Cities area.

 

Several years ago, my old boss from Inflight Pilot Training, LLC, started weekly safety seminars at Flying Cloud Municipal Airport (KFCM) located in Eden Prairie, MN.  What started out as a handful of seasoned pilots based on the field with donuts and coffee, this event blossomed into nearly 100 pilots every week attending seminars featuring various safety topics such as weather, medical issues, maintenance, new technology, and much more.  Now, AirTrekNorth, a flight schovol started in Lakeville, MN, carries on the tradition in their KFCM location.

While you may have thousands of hours, or you’re just starting to fly, the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) has turned to a creative way to approach many safety topics affecting pilots today.  They also have the WINGS program which allows you to get credit for the training you complete online with organizations such as AOPA and the FAA through training, such as the Saturday seminars.

After the seminar, you will find pilots milling about for hours talking flying (if the weather is bad), or they inevitably go to their own hangars and get their aircraft ready for a spin in the beautiful Minnesota weather.

You Fly to the North Shore

While Minnesota doesn’t have the ocean to boast of when referring to great scenic flights, we do have the North Shore – a.k.a., the shores of Lake Superior which is one of the largest, freshwater lakes in the country. 

Flying to the North Shore in the summer can be a great way to beat the heat.  Some great destinations include Duluth International Airport. Sky Harbor Airport (near downtown Duluth), Two Harbors, and many more.  Many of these small, North Shore towns boast spectacular views of the lake including great restaurants to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the Twin Cities. 

 

If you’re considering making a weekend out of it with family or friends, head to Duluth International Airport and find a rental car or courtesy car from the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO).  There are several great hotels in downtown Duluth on the shore or further into the city.  There’s an aquarium, museum, and much more to do in town.

Flying north of the Twin Cities to the North Shore gives you a great flight to experience Minnesota and is a great way to get your Minnesota flying friends together for a day – besides, building cross-country time is always a bonus. 

You Go to the WOTN Air Expo Every Single Year

Another great aspect of Minnesota flying is the Wings of the North (WOTN) Air Expo held every year at KFCM.  What started as a non-profit organization in the late ‘90s, designed to preserve and present aviation history, it has blossomed into a Twin Cities aviation fixture.

Their museum is located at KFCM and WOTN hosts the Air Expo every July featuring many aviation organizations in the community with sponsors from Sun Country Airlines, Minnesota Flyer magazine, UTC Aerospace Systems and more.  WOTN also brings in many static displays from public and private collectors from all eras of aviation including World War I (WWI), WWII, and more. 

This great family event is a fun way to connect with those in the community and meet other pilots from the area as they all come flocking to this annual event.   It’s also a great way to support a local non-profit whose mission is to preserve aviation history. 

Overall, Minnesota is really a great place to be a pilot.  With all of the seminars, fly-ins, local airshows, cookouts, and destinations, it can be hard to find the time to actually get it all done!  As a pilot, we’re always looking for new places to go, so start your wish list now for Minnesota and start checking those boxes off.

Remember, you only have so much summer to get it done!  Happy flying!

Paying It Forward: The Importance of Giving Back to Aviation's Next Generation

Remember back in the good ole' days, when you were eating ramen noodles and living out of a crash pad so that you didn't have to move in with your parents after college? Remember when you had nothing but your dreams ahead of you, only to be knocked down once or twice because you couldn't afford to follow through with them? Were you, by chance, one of those starving pilots who handed over your paycheck for a single flight in a 152, or a budding manager who lived out of your car during your first low-paying airport job? Or maybe you just came to your aviation career later in life, after struggling, maybe even giving up once or twice along the way, only to find some other way to make it happen years later?

Maybe your parents helped you along the way, or maybe a stranger, or maybe a supervisor who saw potential in you and gave you that well-deserved promotion. Perhaps you got a scholarship, or maybe you had a good mentor, or friends who made important connections for you along the way.

However you got to where you are, chances are good that you had some help. Whether it came to you financially, through a scholarship or a leg up from your parents, or whether you just worked hard every single day, you probably witnessed the importance of a helping hand as you worked your way to where you are.

Had I not had help along the way, my life would have taken a very different course. Perhaps I wouldn't even be in aviation today. Perhaps I'd have been pushed into a different, higher-paying job just to make ends meet. I'm certain I'd have found my way back into aviation, but it would have been a much longer road. But that didn't happen, thanks to a variety of generous people who helped me along the way. It seems like each time I ran out of money or resources or good fortune, I was offered a helping hand. Whether it was in the form of a place to stay, extra cash, a scholarship, or just words of encouragement, those acts of kindness and pure generosity meant that I could continue on my path to become a pilot.

During the early years of anyone's developing career path, this kind of help is so important. And aviation's next generation can use all the help they can get. Aviation is expensive, right? Flying, for those of us not blessed with unlimited financial resources, can seem so far out of our reach that some people just can't or won't even consider it. And even for those who have the resources, or those of us who have dug down deep and saved enough money, it seems like it's just never enough to get where you want to go.

I remember the feeling I had when, years ago, I got a scholarship letter in the mail. I was so grateful. It was more than just money, although that was important, too. It meant that somebody, somewhere, believed that I had what it takes to become a pilot, and that my hard work spent keeping up my grades and volunteering had paid off. It meant that I, and my family, would struggle less to come up with money for me to fly. And it meant, for at least the following year, I could continue on with my dreams. Months later, I met the generous man who had given me this scholarship, along with a couple of other scholarship recipients, and what he said has stuck with me. He didn't want anything in return, he said. He wasn't going to track our whereabouts or even our grades. He was just going to trust that we'd do the right thing, and that someday, after we've "made it," maybe we could pass on our good fortune to a younger generation. Pay it forward.

If you've "made it" in the aviation world, have you considered giving someone else a leg up? If you're financially sound, have you considered offering a scholarship to a young person who wants to follow their dream to work in aviation? If you succeeded, even in part, due to someone else's mentorship or coaching in the early years, have you made an effort to mentor someone else who may benefit from a friend in the industry? If your success in the aviation world today is due in part to the generosity of someone else, whether in the form of a scholarship, a mentor, a friend who offered you a place to stay or a supervisor who put in a good word for you, have you thought to pay it forward?

Pay it forward. You might just make someone's dream a reality. And the aviation industry will thank you.



Did you know that GlobalAir.com offers a scholarship? Track last year's scholarship recipients here, and stay tuned for more news on the 2015 scholarship winners!

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