Owner Produced Parts

by Don Dodge
The article was written to address the producing of parts by owner and operators. The article is not intended to imply that maintenance technicians or repair stations may not be able to manufacture parts in the course of accomplishing repairs or alterations. That in itself is another topic for another day.

The sun was setting on another hot August afternoon when the South Carolina Flight Standards District Office received the call from a local airport manager notifying the office that a Piper Cherokee had suffered a nose gear collapse during taxi operations. It was reported that the Cherokee suffered minor damage; the damage included a prop strike and lower cowling abrasion.

Early the next morning, the inspector assigned to investigate the incident picked up the preliminary information with one hand and his first cup of coffee with the other. As the aroma and warm flavor of his coffee cleared the nightís cobwebs from his mind, he eyeballed the incident information. As he read, he thought: "Letís see, Cherokee 140, taxi, nose gear collapse, prop, cowling, etc., etc.ówait a minute, Cherokee 140? How can a 140ís nose gear collapse during taxi operations and cause this kind of damage? An Arrow, maybe, but a 140?"

Years of experience told the inspector there was a lot more to this story than had been reported. So on that hot, humid, August morning, he headed for the airport. His investigation uncovered a classic case of an aircraft owner making parts and doing everything wrong. The issues surrounding manufacturing approved parts, who can produce these parts, what makes a part approved or unapproved, all came up in the investigation.

Time and again aircraft owners and maintenance technicians are pressured into making parts. Why do we do it? Why do we take on that liability? Letís look at the facts.

The average general aviation, piston single-engine aircraft is more than 32 years old; the average piston twin is more than 27 years old; and the average turbo prop is 19 years old. The GA aircraft fleet was never designed to last this long, and, when it comes to getting replacement parts to maintain these aircraft, here are a few of the problems we all face.

The aircraft has been out of production for years.