Articles by Mike Busch A&P/IA

AOPA PILOT magazine

Since October 2015, Mike has written a monthly maintenance column “Savvy Maintenance” in AOPA PILOT magazine. Between January 2010 and September 2015, he wrote a similar column in EAA Sport Aviation magazine. All of those articles are archived below.

Patreon

Please consider supporting Mike’s writing and many other outreach efforts and advocacy on behalf of aircraft owners (for which he receives no compensation) by becoming a patron of Mike’s work at Patreon.com/SavvyAviator.

Some of Mike's favorites

The Waddington Effect — More maintenance isn’t necessarily better. (EAA Sport Aviation, March 2011)

Is Your Engine Airworthy? — A commonsense approach. (EAA Sport Aviation, April 2010)

A Mechanic’s Liability — If your mechanic seems overly cautious and self-protective in his approach to maintaining your airplane, he has good reason. (EAA Sport Aviation, August 2014)

Watch Your Language — When requesting maintenance, the words you use are important (AOPA PILOT, January 2016)

Sign Here — The two regulations that detail mechanic endorsements (AOPA PILOT, May 2016)

Is Repair A Lost Art? — When to get a second opinion (AOPA PILOT, June 2016)

Differential Diagnosis — Figuring out what’s wrong is the hardest part (AOPA PILOT, September 2016)

Stuck in Reykjavic — Remote diagnosis saves the day (AOPA PILOT, November 2016)

Buyer Beware — If an airplane is listed for sale cheap, there’s always a reason (AOPA PILOT, December 2016)

Big Data’s Secrets — Why the wind’s on your nose and your cylinder runs hot (AOPA PILOT, January 2017)

Actionable Intelligence from Big Data — Comparing individual aircraft to others of their ilk (AOPA PILOT, February 2017)

Making Metal Behave — How we coax metal aircraft parts in doing what must be done (AOPA PILOT, February 2018)

Car Talk — What makes automobiles and airplanes so different? (AOPA PILOT, March 2018)

Time Capsule — Inside each piston-aircraft cowling is technology from another era (AOPA PILOT, August 2018)

A Matter of Policy — Understanding aircraft insurance (AOPA PILOT, June 2019)

What is Preventive Maintenance? — What may you do without A&P involvement? More than you might think (AOPA PILOT, October 2019)

Hostage Situation — Don’t fall victim to an overzealous mechanic (AOPA PILOT, December 2019)

Tense Bolts — When using threaded fasteners in tension, it’s all about the preload (AOPA PILOT, January 2020)

Shear Joints — When using fasteners loaded in shear, things can get interesting (AOPA PILOT, February 2020)

Risky Business — Why it is nearly impossible to install a cylinder properly when the engine is on the airplane (AOPA PILOT, March 2020)

Seeing the Future — Condition-based maintenance meets big data and artificial intelligence (AOPA PILOT, May 2020)

AOPA PILOT articles (10/2015-present)

Tectonic Shifts — Changing competitive landscape in piston GA engines (October 2015)

Blame the Hardware — When pilots screw up, plaintiff lawyers always seem to sue equipment manufacturers (November 2015)

Insurance Woes — When repairs are covered by insurance, it’s the owner’s job to keep things under control (December 2015)

Watch Your Language — When requesting maintenance, the words you use are important (January 2016)

Fear and Balderdash — Maintenance decisions need to be fact- and evidence-based (February 2016)

Inaugural GA Engine Summit — Improving how ADs are dealt with (March 2016)

LSAs: Who’s Guarding the Henhouse — The new crop of factory-built LSAs is impressive and exciting, but the maintenance rules are…different (April 2016)

Sign Here — The two regulations that detail mechanic endorsements (May 2016)

Is Repair A Lost Art? — When to get a second opinion (June 2016)

What Does ‘Airworthy’ Mean? — The definition of this ubiquitous term depends on the context (July 2016)

Whom Should You Trust? — Choose your expert with care (August 2016)

Differential Diagnosis — Figuring out what’s wrong is the hardest part (September 2016)

Tales of Woe — Whoa! This isn’t an inspection (October 2016)

Stuck in Reykjavic — Remote diagnosis saves the day (November 2016)

Buyer Beware — If an airplane is listed for sale cheap, there’s always a reason (December 2016)

Big Data’s Secrets — Why the wind’s on your nose and your cylinder runs hot (January 2017)

Actionable Intelligence from Big Data — Comparing individual aircraft to others of their ilk (February 2017)

Buy…or Walk Away? — When to purchase and when to pass (March 2017)

Keep It Minor — Do you really need the FAA’s blessing to modify your aircraft? (April 2017)

Borescope Ascendancy — Time to topple the venerable compression test? (May 2017)

Outside the Box — The Rotax 912 is delightfully different (June 2017)

Traveling Toolkit — What do you carry in your aircraft? (July 2017)

Back In the Game — The first flight after maintenance is special (August 2017)

By The Book — Must manufacturers’ maintenance guidance be followed? (September 2017)

Crisis Averted — The disaster that didn’t happen (October 2017)

Grand Theft Propeller — Can a mechanic hold an aircraft part hostage? (November 2017)

Behind the Curtain — Discussing innovation and safety at the GA Engine Summit (December 2017)

Where’s the Smoking Gun? — When aircraft problems occur, we don’t always get an explanation (January 2018)

Making Metal Behave — How we coax metal aircraft parts in doing what must be done (February 2018)

Car Talk — What makes automobiles and airplanes so different? (March 2018)

Where Fuel and Air Meet — Basics of piston aircraft engine fuel metering systems (April 2018)

The Bottom End — What’s inside your engine’s crankcase? (May 2018)

Autographing a Lie — An IA’s dilemma? (June 2018)

Fire in the Hole — Spark plugs start the fire, and need some TLC (July 2018)

Time Capsule — Inside each piston-aircraft cowling is technology from another era (August 2018)

Turbo Trouble — The right diagnosis and response could save your life (Septmber 2018)

Hip To Be (Over)Square — The myriad benefits of high manifold pressure and low RPM (October 2018)

Have a Test-Pilot Mindset — What to do when you pick up your aircraft from the shop (November 2018)

Just Inspect It, Please — Mechanics should never make repairs without owner approval (December 2018)

Breaking Good — Taking the complexity out of cylinder break-in (January 2019)

Errors of Distraction — When mechanics get interrupted, bad things can happen (February 2019)

Powerplant Resurrection — Reviving an engine that has been inactive (March 2019)

Crimes and Misdemeanors — Cold starts are a culprit in engine damage (April 2019)

Band-Aid Solutions — Before doing something expensive or invasive, slow down (May 2019)

A Matter of Policy — Understanding aircraft insurance (June 2019)

I Wanna Sue! — When things go awry in the sky, litigation isn’t necessarily the best remedy (July 2019)

Double Standard? — Why don’t A&Ps meet the same recurrency standards as pilots? (August 2019)

Safety Continuum — The Friendlies are remarkably friendly to Part 91 folks (September 2019)

What is Preventive Maintenance? — What may you do without A&P involvement? More than you might think (October 2019)

Evicted — Thoughts on being temporarily booted out of my hangar (November 2019)

Hostage Situation — Don’t fall victim to an overzealous mechanic (December 2019)

Tense Bolts — When using threaded fasteners in tension, it’s all about the preload (January 2020)

Shear Joints — When using fasteners loaded in shear, things can get interesting (February 2020)

Risky Business — Why it is nearly impossible to install a cylinder properly when the engine is on the airplane (March 2020)

Hot Seat — Is it legal to install uncertified equipment in a certificated aircraft? (April 2020)

Seeing the Future — Condition-based maintenance meets big data and artificial intelligence (May 2020)

Justice Denied? — When it comes to GA crashes, the NTSB doesn’t always get it right, nor does the jury (June 2020)

Why Valves Stick — How you can avoid engine damage and power loss (July 2020)

Fresh Annual — Why it’s no substitute for a proper independent prebuy (August 2020)

EAA Sport Aviation articles (1/2010-9/2015)

Reliability-Centered Maintenance — Time to apply it to general aviation? (January 2010)

Is Engine TBO a Myth? — Reliability-centered maintenance, part 2. (February 2010)

Critical Component Failures — Reliability-centered maintenance, part 3. (March 2010)

Is Your Engine Airworthy? — A commonsense approach. (April 2010)

OIC — Becoming a better owner-in-command. (May 2010)

Billing Nightmare! — Evaluating your maintenance shop’s paperwork. (June 2010)

Don’t Fail Me Now — How and why exhaust valves fail. (July 2010)

Exhaust Valve Failures — Part 2: Preventing failures by early detection. (August 2010)

Destructive Detonation — Know the symptoms, and act fast! (September 2010)

EGT Myths Debunked — Understanding exhaust gas temperatures. (October 2010)

Return To Service — You’re a test pilot; act accordingly. (November 2010)

The Mag Check — Are you doing it right? (December 2010)

All About Oil — Part 1: What you should know (January 2011)

Slippery Stuff — Part 2: Additives, consumption, levels, intervals, filters and analysis (February 2011)

The Waddington Effect — More maintenance isn’t necessarily better. (March 2011)

Making Metal? — How to ensure nothing is coming apart inside your crankcase. (April 2011)

Is It Safe? Is It Airworthy? — “Safe” and “airworthy” aren’t synonyms. (May 2011)

About Batteries — Part 1: Aircraft batteries need TLC if you don’t want to be left stranded (June 2011)

Battery TLC — Part 2: The care and feeding of aircraft batteries. (July 2011)

Owner-Produced Parts — Replacement parts you can make yourself for certificated aircraft. (August 2011)

Too Broken To Fly? — The rules about flying with inoperative equipment are complicated. (September 2011)

Warranty Schmarranty — That $40,000 engine turns out to be a lemon; you’re covered under warranty, right? (October 2011)

My $.02 on $6 Avgas — How much do gas prices affect your flying? (November 2011)

Intervals — When are manufacturer-specified inspection, overhaul and replacement intervals mandatory for a Part 91 operator? (December 2011)

Flight-Test Profiles — The best way to diagnose an engine problem is usually in the air. (January 2012)

When to Overhaul — How do you decide when it’s time? If not at TBO, when? (February 2012)

How to Flunk an Annual Inspection — An annual is a pass-fail test. Sometimes failing is the best course of action. (March 2012)

The Most Unforgivable Sin — Running out of fuel only happens to the other guy, right? (April 2012)

Breakdown! — Bad news away from home. (May 2012)

Trust But Verify — Before you approve any costly or invasive repair to your aircraft, make sure the discrepancy is real. (June 2012)

The Decision Point — It’s time to sit down with your IA. (July 2012)

Teardown! — Making the difficult decision to tear down an engine. (August 2012)

Cam Distress — When your engine finally needs to be overhauled, the most likely cause will be corrision-induced distress to the cam lobes. (September 2012)

Flying Efficiently — It’s more important than ever to get the best bang for the buck. (October 2012)

Mini Versus Maxi — Is your mechanic a minimalist or a maximalist? (November 2012)

Red Box, Red Fin — How not to lean your engine. (December 2012)

How Much Is Too Much? — There’s metal in your oil filter. Now what? (January 2013)

Separation Anxiety — Can we prevent these head-to-barrel separations? (February 2013)

Diagnostic Tales From the War Zone — Troubleshooting is best accomplished by first gathering data and then analyzing it logically. (March 2013)

A Little Dab’ll Do Ya…In — Even a seemingly trivial mistake by a well-intentioned mechanic can have dire consequences. (April 2013)

The Redundancy Trap — The best way to protect against failure of any component is to have two…or is it? (May 2013)

The Blame Game — When “stuff” happens to your aircraft, it’s not always someone else’s fault. (June 2013)

Compression In Context — Few aviation maintenance tasks are so misunderstood. (July 2013)

But My Mechanic Says… — Aircraft owners get lots of bad advice from their A&Ps. Ever wonder where the A&Ps get it from? (August 2013)

AOG Rescue — A mechanical problem away from home is every aircraft owner’s worst nightmare. (September 2013)

Thinking Slow — Why many career A&Ps are not great troubleshooters. (October 2013)

Rough Engine — Understanding the underlying causes of engine roughness. (November 2013)

Damage History — The term is not well-defined. Here are some thoughts. (December 2013)

Mechanic, Heal Thyself — All airplanes occasionally get sick. Even mine. (January 2014)

High Oil Consumption — Don’t do anything until you know where the oil is going. (February 2014)

Not-So-Plain-Bearings — There’s a lot more to engine bearings than meets the eye. (March 2014)

Ferry Permits — For when your aircraft isn’t airworthy but you need to fly it anyway. (April 2014)

Scuzzy Skyhawk — A thorough, independent pre-buy examination is essential, even for a simple 172. (May 2014)

Cylinder Work: Be Afraid — It is nearly impossible to install a cylinder properly when the engine is on the airplane. (June 2014)

A Highly Modified Skyhawk — How does an IA deal with a situation like this? (July 2014)

A Mechanic’s Liability — If your mechanic seems overly cautious and self-protective in his approach to maintaining your airplane, he has good reason. (August 2014)

Human Error — “To err is human…” but when humans make mistakes working on aircraft, bad things can happen. (September 2014)

Energy and Efficiency — Why are our piston aircraft engines so @#$%*! inefficient? (October 2014)

Pre-Buy Do’s and Don’ts — If you’re buying an aircraft, here’s how to structure the pre-buy. (November 2014)

Silent Killer — If you think CO-related accidents are rare, think again. (December 2014)

The Perfect Mechanic — What to look for when choosing an A&P to work on your aircraft. (January 2015)

150-Year-Old Technology — Most of us are still flying (and driving) behind powerplant technology that dates from the 19th century. (March 2015)

Oleos — Oleo pneumatic shock struts use hydraulic fluid, compressed gas, and darn clever engineering to improve our landings. (April 2015)

Fix It Now…Or Fix It Later? — Dealing with mechanicals away from home. (May 2015)

Alterations — Clearing up confusion about aircraft mods. (June 2015)

Why I Hate Pulling Jugs — It’s riskier business than most owners or A&Ps realize. (July 2015)

Backdoor Rulemaking? — Cessna gets caught with its hand in the FAA’s cookie jar. (August 2015)

Don’t Go Overboard — Suppressing the urge to overreact to and overkill problems. (September 2015)