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So Uncle Bob just died and left me 3.14 million dollas. Or else I hit the lottery, or what have you. Whatever the case may be, I've decided that today is the day I buy myself an airplane. Harrison Ford has one and by God I want one too. This means that I need a mechanic.

We can assume that I don't already know any mechanics (For the purposes of the question, we can assume I soaked my home in Cristal, tossed flaming $100 bills at it until it burned down, and then moved to Beverly Hills, away from all the little people), so:

How do I find a mechanic or maintenance shop to keep my privately-owned aircraft airworthy?

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you be more specific about why hiring a mechanic is different or more difficult from hiring any other professional? Finding one usually isn't difficult; finding a good one may be, but that's a slightly different issue and hard to answer properly anyway. And if you're really that rich, you'll delegate finding one to your personal assistant rather waste your own valuable time :-) $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Oct 6 '14 at 2:40
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    $\begingroup$ @pondlife - The tone and background of the question are just for fun, but the question itself is an honest one. Is it really as easy as opening up the phone book? I have no idea and am hoping someone who's done it can tell me more. $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Oct 6 '14 at 4:24
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I didn't want to seem humorless but maybe I did :-) Anyway, I've never looked for a mechanic but if I had to I would start by asking the FBO where I usually rent, my usual instructor, maybe a couple of other pilots. Flying really requires you to have contacts like that so it seems like a good place to start. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Oct 6 '14 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveV. I like you question and don't agree with the close votes. However, I think you want to emphasize on finding aircraft mechanics, but your question may falsely highlight how can you employ a full-time mechanic. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Oct 6 '14 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ I upvoted because I laughed at the last paragraph. $\endgroup$ – Keegan Oct 6 '14 at 20:19
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The key when selecting an aviation mechanic or shop to maintain your newly purchased plane is "time in type": You would not take a Cessna 172 to the United Airlines maintenance facility at JFK, not would you take an A380 to the local Cessna service center (even though it would be perfectly legal to do so).

If you're buying a new aircraft (of any type) the manufacturer will be able to recommend an authorized service center for you, and you'll probably want to use an authorized service center (especially for warranty work).

If you're buying a used aircraft you can still contact the manufacturer and ask about authorized service centers. They will usually be happy to give you a list of places near you that can work on your aircraft, and who are blessed by the factory to perform warranty service, complete mandatory service bulletins where the manufacturer is supplying parts / covering labor, etc.


Aside from manufacturer recommendations there are a lot of other ways to find a maintenance shop that beat simply asking Google and picking one at random.

For the most common single-engine piston aircraft (your typical Piper Cherokee, Cessna 172/182, etc.) you can almost certainly find a mechanic at your local general aviation airport - ask the FBO where you're storing the plane for recommendations or talk to other pilots on the ramp about who they use for maintenance.

For more esoteric aircraft (high-performance singles, twins, vintage/classic/warbirds, etc.) your best resource is often a type club (e.g. The American Bonanza Society for Beechcraft Bonanzas, or ICS for the Piper Comanche) - Google can help you track down a type club, and the members can help you find mechanics who have experience working on your particular airplane.
Type clubs are also a great source of other information (like where to find parts).

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It's very, very easy to hire an aircraft mechanic. Drive to your local airport and explore the less-travelled roads beside the fence. You will find a number of maintenance facilities that can service anything from a Piper Cub to the Concorde. Walk in, say hello.

Small exception: major international hubs tend to be air carrier only. General aviation will be somewhere else, but any maintenance shop will know where the others are - it's a fairly small community.

Also note that uncle Bob's 3.14 million won't buy much. It will get you a really decent piston single or very light twin. Or a high-time turbine in need of some pricy maintenance. Remember that unlike a car, the sticker price on an aircraft is just the edge of the money pit. You make yourself a 5-year budget and spend no more than half on the actual aircraft. If you buy new you can shift it a bit as you won't need any unscheduled maintenance for a while but in the broad scheme of things aviation is not for the financially fainthearted.

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    $\begingroup$ While aviation isn't cheap, If you're spending $3.14 million on a decent piston single you might be paying too much. Purchasing a 2014 top-of-the-line Cessna TTx straight from Cessna is around 750k. A 2014 Cirrus SR22 (one of the best-selling piston singles in the world) is around 650k. However, lest we scare off people who want to learn to fly and buy their own airplane, a well-maintained, older Cessna 172 (there are still a lot of them around, Cessna having build 43,000 since 1956) can be had for $50k or less (check out controller.com or barnstormers.com for examples) $\endgroup$ – Canuk Oct 6 '14 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ If he's buying a Cirrus, new, his 5-year budget would be about 1 mil. That old Cessna would probably need an engine fairly soon, so that's same again, installed. 5 years will be maybe 1/4 million. He's going to have enough left to do a really good world tour. $\endgroup$ – paul Oct 7 '14 at 13:21
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I believe the best way to seek such a mechanic would be to ask the place you purchased your aircraft, asking the airfield you park your aircraft at or simply googling "Aircraft Mechanic in [insert location]".

If you need a link to local mechanics here is one.

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FAA has maintains a list of mechanics. You can download the entire list too.

This page has some related information about mechanics.

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