Airplane Owner Maintenance

A Maintenance Oriented Podcast For Airplane Owners

Month: October 2016

040 – What Un-Noticed Issue Might be Lurking in YOUR Airplane?

Hey, check out this conference… It’s called the “Live It Forward ADVANCE” conference, with Kent Julian.  (He has one of the most inspiring new podcasts that I’ve found recently.

I’m planning to be there (in Duluth, Georgia,) in 2 weeks, November 10, 11, and 12.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I would love to see you there… and I think you would find it valuable.

Do you want to get your instrument rating?  Commercial pilot certificate?  Maybe a better airplane?  Or something else?  Whatever it is that you’ve been “dreaming” about doing, that you want to actually put into action… this conference is all about helping us to do that.

Check it out here:

I figured if even one or two listeners of the “Airplane Owner Maintenance” podcast came to the conference, that would be really great.

AND, one of the speakers at the conference is Brian Holmes, someone that I also respect a lot, and he is a pilot who loves to talk about airplanes and aviation!  He also has a fantastic podcast called “The Strategic Leader” podcast.  

So… listen to today’s episode, go to, and check out the conference, and register, with the discount code “JILL” (all caps,) and you can get $50 off the conference price.

AND… listen to today’s episode for another offer I gave for connecting with me personally at that conference.

Thanks for considering this… If you decide to come, I am quite sure you will not be disappointed!


And now for the “Airplane Maintenance” portion of today’s episode:










Yep… those are twisted control cables.

And, nope… they should not be that way.

I found this during an annual inspection this past week on a Cessna P210, under the baggage compartment floor.

And earlier this year, I found a frayed aileron control cable on a Cessna 414, but it was not by seeing it at first.  The first thing I noticed was a strange noise when I moved the left aileron up and down.

Check out this video:

That noise prompted me to look inside the wing and eventually find the frayed cable where it was rubbing across the fairlead.










So, here are a few of my recommendations for today (some of which I’ve probably covered before in previous episodes, but are worth repeating:)

  1.  Take your airplane to a different inspector occasionally!  I’m not trying to point a finger at anyone… these two airplanes, with the twisted control cables, and the frayed cable, had been last inspected by reputable shops and inspectors.  I’m just saying the more inspector eyes you can get on your airplane, within reason, the better.
  2. Consider doing an owner-assisted annual inspection.

  3. Be inquisitive… open some extra panels that perhaps have not been opened in a long time.

  4. Use your eyes, AND ears, for inspecting, and noticing, issues.

And if you do these things, hopefully it will help you to avoid having a maintenance issue lurking un-noticed, in your airplane. 

Thanks for listening today, and remember, if you register for the Live It Forward ADVANCE conference, you can get a discount by using the code JILL when you check out.  You can register here:

Have a great week!

039 – You Can’t Always Believe an “Idiot-Light”

Warning and indicator lights on an airplane instrument panel… they give a lot of useful information when they’re interpreted correctly.

When everything is working properly, an “Idiot Light” can tell you when a system has failed.

According to Google, an “Idiot Light” is, “A warning light that goes on when a fault occurs in a device, especially a light on the instrument panel of a motor vehicle.”

This is a pretty good definition, as long as everything else is functioning normally.

But be careful, because sometimes these warning lights can “lie” to you!

Recently, I did an engine runup in a Piper Apache with a Plane Power alternator system installed.  It had these “alternator inop” lights at the top of the instrument panel.



During the runup, these lights turned off, and it appeared that both alternators were functioning normally.





However, I found something during the inspection, on the right alternator, that showed otherwise.



The alternator output wire was completely disconnected from the ring terminal on the alternator.





So, if I had turned the left alternator off during the runup, I would have discovered that the right alternator was not showing any positive amperage indication on the amp gauge.









So… you can’t always believe the alternator inop light… it must be verified with other available information.

Listen to today’s episode for more on this, and some recommendations for how you can better interpret the lights and information available to you on your airplane’s instrument panel.

And Please, if you’re able, I would really appreciate you leaving a rating and review on iTunes for the podcast… and if you do, I will try to thank you in a future episode.

Thanks in advance!

038 – What Does My Airplane’s Ignition Switch Look Like Inside, and Why Should I Care?

As a pilot, this is the part of the ignition switch you’re used to seeing… the part where you put the key in when you start the engine.  It’s also the part you use to do your mag checks.  Beyond that, it’s “Out of sight, out of mind,” when it comes to ignition switches.









But what exactly is behind that panel where the ignition switch is mounted?

That’s a good question, a valid question, and a question worth digging into.

Most small airplane ignition switches are Bendix / TCM switches, or ACS / Gerdes switches.

Both of these types are affected by a recurring Airworthiness Directive.

The first is AD 76-07-12 – This one applies to certain Bendix ignition switches.

You can read it here if you like:

The other main AD for ignition switches is 93-05-06, (for ACS / Gerdes switches,) and is available here:

Interestingly, both of these AD’s only apply to switches that have a “start” function.  However, in my opinion, any rotating type ignition switch should be checked regularly to make sure it is functioning properly, and not causing a hot mag when it’s in the “OFF” position.

Now back to those AD’s, there is a reason why the switches with a start position have a special tendency for having problems.

It’s because of what can happen when the starter switch is released.

Listen to this week’s episode and find out what happens, that over a long period of time, can cause this inside your ignition switch:











Notice the black deposits and severely worn contacts, as a result of electrical arcing.

If you want to get geaky and read a great article about ignition switches, here is a great article from the April 2011 issue of Light Plane Maintenance:

Very educational, I must say!

Thanks for listening, and if you like the show, please leave a rating and review on iTunes… I would appreciate it!