The decision to overhaul an engine is one of the most difficult choices an aircraft owner has to make. This tough decision is made even more difficult when the aircraft is running properly and passing inspections during an aircraft’s time between time-based overhauls (TBO). However, each of the many moving parts within an aircraft wears out and eventually needs repair or replacement. Safety is the most important goal in aviation. That principle, when applied to machinery or mechanical devices, is reliability. Here are a few factors you should take into consideration when making a decision about engine overhaul.
The first factor is your manufacturer-established TBO. Each engine manufacturer mandates a specific TBO to maintain the reliability of the engine and ensure that major components will be reusable at time of overhaul. Many pilots will operate their engines beyond TBO time in an effort to save money, but the fact of the matter is that this will cause engine components to wear down well beyond recommended specifications and ultimately need to be replaced. This will cost you far more than an as-recommended overhaul would.
The second factor is reliability. If an engine is operated beyond TBO, the safety of the aircraft can no longer be trusted. Corrosion, metal wear, cracks, and other types of damage can become a factor and lead to serious performance issues. These imperfections can not always be seen during a routine inspection, which is why complete engine overhauls are so important.
The third and final factor, one you might not think about, is the legal recourse you could face as a result of operating an engine beyond manufacturer recommendation. Failure to adhere to the strict Federal Aviation Regulations set in place by the FAA can result in steep fines and legal trouble, costing more money and trouble than a simple overhaul. If you take care of your aircraft, it will take care of you. Routine checkups and responsible operation will go a long way to ensuring your engine performs properly and reaches its recommended TBO.