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FOUR TIPS


MY NUMBER ONE PRE-BUY TIP is to use the same mechanic or shop for the pre-buy that will maintain your new helicopter after purchase. Unfortunately, this suggestion usually falls on deaf ears.


Although most of the negative feedback I get on this tip is understandable — even reasonable — there is one important issue some folks fail to consider: the mechanic you hire in BFE to perform the pre-buy is not the one who will present you with that $10,000 repair estimate after its first annual or scheduled inspection. But...But...


But what? The BFE mechanic determined an item to be airworthy and your mechanic does not? We all know airworthy is both objective and subjective. However, rarely have I seen the same mechanic change his subjective determination of airworthiness on the same item.


By sticking with your primary maintenance provider for the pre- buy and cutting out the middleman, you can develop a working relationship or agreement with your mechanic on any issues that surface now or in the future.


TIP NUMBER TWO: Once your mechanic is onboard, create the guide or checklist to use for the pre-buy. Here, you should lean heavily on the mechanic for input, while remaining integral to the entire process. After all, as the new owner you will be legally responsible for the helicopter’s airworthiness. With a pre-buy checklist decided upon, you can now format it, identify it, and print it out specifically for that helicopter.


TIP NUMBER THREE: After the pre-buy checklist is documented, send a copy to the seller for review. There may be something on the list that he doesn’t understand or refuses to allow. If the seller balks, make it a negotiating point, or work out an alternative check with your mechanic — or maybe even walk away.


TIP NUMBER FOUR: Get everyone’s agreement in writing. It doesn’t need to be complex or official. A simple, signed written agreement between you and your mechanic — and you and the seller — describing the who, what, when, where, and how of the pre-buy inspection will provide memory enhancement should the need arise.


DREADED DISCREPANCIES


The disposition of any discrepancies encountered during the pre-buy should be discussed with the seller prior to the pre-buy and the result entered in your agreement with him. This is not to protect you as much as it is to protect your mechanic.


Even though a pre-buy is not an FAA required inspection, some of the work performed during a pre-buy could fall under Part 43. For example, the mechanic checks the engine chip plugs for debris and notes a small number of flakes that have not bridged the plug gap.


Since Part 43 is a performance regulation (versus an operational regulation like Part 91), your certified A&P mechanic is required to perform maintenance in accordance with Part 43. Now, what if one of those flakes is larger than permitted by the maintenance manual, requiring further checks? Oh, boy.


The last thing a desperate seller wants to hear is that his aircraft is broke and the discrepancy needs to be documented. But then again, if you hadn’t checked the chip plugs, you could have been stuck with that bill after purchase.


76


Jan/Feb 2018


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