Saving money. Who doesn’t want to do that?
From printed catalogs that come stuffed in your mailbox to online parts websites, at Sky Manor Air Repair and Avionics we fully understand that there are many choices when it comes to saving money on aircraft parts.
Then, of course, there’s eBay, a very tempting option to source open box, over-stock, or pre-owned parts.
Do you use eBay? If not, you probably should. There are loads of good deals to be found there.
Wait, did I just tell people to go somewhere else to find cheap parts?
Hang on, before you get too click happy, you might want to read this story which highlights one customer’s experience using eBay to resource parts for his airplane – only a 3 minute read.
Note, the story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been omitted to protect the innocent.*
Saving money is more than just the price of the part.
Recently, a plane was in our shop for a failed ‘component’ that by our recommendation needed to be removed, professionally overhauled, and reinstalled for a best case outcome – clearly a labor intensive job.
Upon hearing this advice and without professional consult the customer went online and found what he believed to be a viable pre-owned replacement part. After all, it appeared to match that of his own failed ‘component’.
He reasoned, this could easily save lots of labor time and costs.
Perhaps persuaded by a self-reliant attitude, well intentioned advice from friends, or even the overwhelming desire to save a few dollars, the decision was made to click the Order Now button.
All the customer needed to do now was wait for it to arrive, confident that a money saving solution was found.
Upon arrival it was brought to our shop with a request for us to install his newly acquired pre-owned part instead of the time consuming effort of overhauling the original. We graciously obliged his wishes.
After several attempts to make it work, there were just too many small differences between this used part and the one required to meet his application to ensure a proper fit.
It was disheartening for the customer to discover this misstep.
Yet, had he just discussed his thoughts and plans with us first before placing the order, we would have reinforced our original advice that the best savings based on our experience would be to overhaul his current part instead of buying a used one.
Had he still wanted to go with a used part we could have helped him with proper sizing so he wouldn’t have purchased one that did not fit – if only we had been included before clicking the magic button.
Rather than saving money, additional costs were accrued. There is the labor time our team needed to discover that it would not work, the freight costs of returning the wrong part (provided the eBay seller will even return it), and the time that was lost getting his aircraft ready for flight – a process that might have taken a month is now going on a month and a half and we are still not done.
Don’t underestimate the value that your maintenance team adds.
While some parts might look like an easy replacement from the online description or an ad in a catalog, all too often things are not as they may appear. Chances are quite high that your airplane maintenance staff has been down this road before. They have the experience to discern the various differences in aircraft models to know what will work and what will not.
Before you pull the trigger and order your aircraft parts from anyone other than your airplane maintenance team, do lots of homework to make sure it is the right part.
It’s also important to remember that most aircraft shops will not guarantee work they provide when installing parts that they themselves did not research and verify are correct for your make and model aircraft.
The knowledge and experience that your maintenance team provides can go a long way in helping you save money. In the long run they have your best interest at heart as they look to keep your business year after year.
Are you confident that the anonymous eBay seller feels the same?
by Ted Shelson | Sky Manor Air Repair and Avionics
* a Dragnet franchise tagline