Ways to validate a shop or have mechanic interviewed

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    Hi all, I was recently told there is a very good 400 mechanic on my local field. However, I’ve heard that before. I’m wondering if anyone has found a good way to validate “good”. It sure would be nice to have a way to interview or validate a mechanic and their knowledge.

    When I went over to the shop they had 2 340’s in the shop, a king air and a turbine commander so I think it’s clear they understand pressurized aircraft, but what I’m not sure of is how well they understand the 400.

    I was told that the Director of the operations and his team had 10+ years working on 300/400 series Cessna, but I’ve heard too many stories about things going wrong if they don’t really know.

    If anyone has any good ideas, let me know. I’d like to use this shop because it’s on my local field KBOI.



    If his customers are happy, he’ll have no issue giving you their names as references. Problem being, you’ll only get the names of the happy customers, not any unhappy customers. You’ll have to find those unhappy customers at his competitor. Some of the happy customers will be happy because the mechanic was cheap or fast. Ask to see log books of the referrals. You can tell a lot by the log entries, but don’t discount short entries if the entry is for a complex procedure via an approved method. Short entries that lack detail and are generic need more investigation.

    Some of the worst issues I have seen come from pilots/owners not understanding just how much maintenence is required combined with a mechanic who is lazy or afraid of the owner. One party talks the other party into putting things off until when the owner ends up at another shop a GOOD mechanic finds all the procrastination.

    Usually when an A&P/IA puts his hands on a particular airplane for the first time, they will take extra time and effort to learn the history and current status of the entire airplane. A quick in and out, no problems found on an initial inspection by someone who doesn’t know the airplane would make me shiver.


    I’ve found you can tell a great deal by talking to the shop usually. How many 340s/414s/421s do they maintain? It sounds like the answer is at least more than one 340. I’d also be interested in what they view as common problems, and what they figure is a “typical” annual cost.

    Business aspects like ease of scheduling, etc. will probably be harder to determine, but ultimately you won’t know until you try them. On-field is very useful. That was part of my reason for picking the airport and shop we’re at currently.

    I’d go meet with the owner, spend some time talking about planes, touring the shop, etc. If the answers are what you like, give them a go.


    I would see if they have a manual, and then have them “pre-flight” your plane requesting they point out common issues. You could also have them do a “pre-buy” inspection on your plane.

    Do they have the jacks and jack adapters? Hydraulic mule? High tension tension gauge for the flaps? What sort of repairs/inspection have they done with airframe/engines on Cessna 300/400 series planes and how recently.


    I would have to disagree and state there is really no “right” way. And even if there were, it wouldn’t be the “right” way much longer as the dishonest people would end up gaming it so that the “right” way would become invalid.

    The best that you can do is to speak with the mechanic as much as you can and maybe give them a small job or two to feel them out – go on a few dates before you get married!

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