It can cut deeply to expend the lion’s share of the annual maintenance budget on replacing some part you’ve never heard of that no one else will ever see.
capability until it becomes available. For example, most
pilots now flying with satellite weather recognize they
are completing flights safely and stress-free that they
never would have attempted without that tool in their
flight-planning kit. Oxygen systems, anti-icing
technology, traffic alert equipment, and others are
examples of goodies that might transcend intangible
wish lists to become truly appreciated expansions of a
pilot’s flying envelope.
Finally, there are what some call “quality of life”
improvements—the paint job you always wanted; or the
interior that makes you want to inhale deeply every time
you sit down, so you can smell the leather. True, some
aircraft owners would rather brush a drooping headliner
aside to focus on that shiny new GPS, but there are also
those who would rather stick to sunny-day flying and
enjoy the creature comforts of fresh upholstery.
Sometimes, the choice of where to deal the budget
dollars comes down to a debate between two sides of the
same aircraft owner’s personality.
The only “right” answer is the one that makes the
airplane safer. And it’s right every time.
Mark Phelps, EAA 139610, is an aviation writer living in New Jersey. He is
the former editor of EAA’s Vintage Airplane magazine and the owner-pilot of
a 1954 Beechcraft Bonanza.