How an informed analysis can save time, money and frustration
Click on each circle to see answers to common questions about aircraft service quotes.
Do the assigned technicians have experience maintaining and inspecting the aircraft?
Experience is vital. Make sure the personnel working on your airplane have a high level of training and experience on your specific make and model. They should also be experienced on the scoped inspections and services, particularly if they require access to the aircraft’s flight control system and comprehensive assembly and disassembly.
Did the parts come directly from the manufacturer? Are they from third-party suppliers? Are they refurbished?
When it’s time to sell your aircraft, potential buyers will evaluate the parts’ quality. Using parts made or approved by the aircraft’s manufacturer can improve resale value.
What will be the maximum downtime?
To avoid unexpected downtime, ask how many days it’s taken the team to complete similar work in the past, and ensure the technicians trained to complete the different stages of work are scheduled to work when your aircraft is at the facility. Also, if you’re deciding between a few different weeks, ask the service scheduler which weeks the facility expects to be at its lowest capacity. Your aircraft may even be finished ahead of schedule when it’s one of only a few in the maintenance hangar.
Who's doing the work, a single A&P or a service team?
If you’re comparing quotes from an independent A&P and the manufacturer’s service center, ask the A&P about added charges and downtime. The A&P may pass the costs to rent special tools or rigging along to you. Most service facilities won’t include those fees because they already have the equipment. It may also take the A&P more time to perform the work, because it’s a single person doing all the work instead of a team working together.
What's the difference between a quote and an estimate?
quote: Work that’s been scoped. The end price should be the amount quoted. Example: pricing for routine work, such as modifications.
estimate: A list of scoped work in which the totality of the work is unknown. In turn, the process is unknown. Examples: trouble-shooting and major repairs. Synonym: proposal
flat rate: A fixed price for an inspection or other routine work.
time and materials: The variable cost of labor and parts.
What is - and is not - included in the quote?
Ask the representative if miscellaneous charges include items like hazardous material, defueling and refueling. Ask for any other charges, like taxes and part kits that may be included in the final bill. Knowing the entire projected final cost will help you evaluate quotes fairly.
What are the labor rates for work on damage or discrepancies technicians find during an inspection?
When you’re negotiating work scope, ask if rates for labor, overtime and engineering assistance are consistent throughout the job. Look for flat hourly labor rates throughout all disciplines and procedures. If an inspection turns up more work for something like avionics, you should know beforehand what labor rates you will eventually pay.
How will the choice in service center affect your aircraft's long-term and resale value?
The maintenance provider ultimately signs off on all work its technicians perform, and those endorsements become part of the aircraft’s logbooks, which greatly affects its value. Many aircraft brokers say an expertly maintained aircraft – and that includes going to a facility with technicians who have years of experience with your model – could increase the aircraft’s resale value.