Dealing with Mechanicals On-the-Road »

No aspect of airplane ownership is more exasperating than when things go wrong while far from home, as a recent coast-to-coast trip in my Cessna 310 illustrated vividly. A review of some lessons learned. More

When Metal Lets Us Down »

It's rare for an engine, propeller or airframe to fail catastrophically in flight. But when one does, more often than not, the culprit is metal fatigue. To make intelligent maintenance decisions, every aircraft owner needs a basic understanding of how metal behaves ... and why it fails. AVweb's Mike Busch offers a primer on the subject. More

Maintenance Does Matter »

With the average GA airplane now in its thirties, it's hardly surprising that more and more sales of used aircraft are being roadblocked by disputes over maintenance discrepancies that show up during the pre-purchase inspection. Professional aircraft appraiser Brian Jacobson warns sellers to stay on top of the maintenance of their aircraft, and not to let the repair of seemingly inconsequential or cosmetic squawks slip, lest they create an obstacle to sale of the aircraft. As for buyers, Jacobson advises demanding an appropriate price reduction to compensate for squawks that show up during the pre-purchase and, if the seller doesn't agree, just walking away from the deal. More

The Whys and Hows of Preheating »

In less than a minute, a single cold start without proper preheating can produce more wear on your piston aircraft engine than 500 hours of normal cruise operation. If it's cold enough, a single cold start can cause the catastrophic destruction of an engine shortly after takeoff. This is serious stuff, folks! AVweb's Mike Busch tells you what you need to know to make it through the cold-weather flying season without damaging your expensive powerplant. More

The Tale of an Alternator »

Taking a break from giving maintenance advice to others, AVweb editor Mike Busch troubleshoots and resolves an alternator problem on his Cessna T310R, and manages to save about $1,000 in the process. He offers an interesting case study in how a maintenance-involved aircraft owner can get better maintenance for less money. After all, if you can save $1,000 here and $1,000 there, pretty soon you're talking real money! Also some helpful suggestions for dealing with those elusive intermittent problems that never seem to happen when the A&P is watching. More

Mag Check »

Magnetos are frequently-neglected items, probably because they're so reliable and our engines have an "extra" one. But mags need regular maintenance, and the consequences of neglect can be devastating. AVweb's Mike Busch explains how mags work, what preventive maintenance they require, what can go wrong with them, and what to do about it. More

Troubleshooting the Turbo-System »

Turbocharging problems seem to be among the most elusive for A&Ps to find and fix, at least judging from the feedback we get from aircraft owners. The keys to success include having a thorough understanding of the system, knowing the symptoms that often can be tip-offs to what's wrong, and using a logical troubleshooting strategy. AVweb editor Mike Busch offers all that, plus a step-by-step checklist for diagnosing those turbo gremlins. More

Help Your Avionics Keep Their Cool »

If your avionics are cooled by a ram air scoop (as many are), you're asking for problems and expense. A good cooling fan installation can pay for itself many times over in reduced avionics failures and repairs. More

The Ten Biggest Lies About Piston Aircraft Engines »

When it comes to piston powerplants, there's an astonishing amount of misinformation making the rounds. Some of it may even come from sources you trust: leading aviation magazines, overhaul shops, even your CFI or A&P. Don't believe everything you read or hear. More

Coping with High Parts Prices »

Every year, the prices of replacement parts for our airplanes goes up ... and more and more part numbers are reclassified as "no longer available." Here are some thoughts about coping with the problem. More