Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Aircraft Parts -- Dealing with the Parts Department

The aircraft parts professional is there to sell you the aircraft part that you request. You tell them the part number and they sell it to you. End of story. However, there are times when you may not know what part you require, in those instances the specialized knowledge of the parts professional is available to assist you. There are millions of slow-moving, specialized, obsolete, replacement parts and it takes years of experience in a particular area of aviation to become knowledgable in parts. We have a sign in front of our parts department that says: "if you didn't get what you wanted then you didn't tell a good enough story" This article is about How to Tell the Story so you get what you want.

How the Aircraft Parts Industry Works
Aircraft industry uses part numbers to designate parts -- hardware stores often work on a description basis; we do not!

When you ask for an aircraft part by using a description, we are on edge. Your description and terms are often foreign (non-aircraft). Some will not accept anything but a part number on the theory that "if you don't know what part to use in your repair then how would I know."

Rules of Engagement - when you don't have a part number
Reserve the right to be wrong -- It's your job to make sure that the repair you are doing is airworthy. You are expected to check the parts to make sure they are appropriate for your aircraft and your repair. We are not working on your airplane.

Never get the parts guy mad at you and then expect help. 

Things to never say to a parts man:

  • "There all the same" - told to us when you can't answer our question as to engine/airplane model.
  • "You sold me the wrong part" What will happen is the parts guy will default to "what part number do you want" and not offer any further assistance because now we don't know what you need.

Use part numbers -- not part descriptions 

Avoid - Drawing a picture of what you need. Often I don't understand the picture, my mind starts to wander, and I get a numb feeling.

Try to learn proper aircraft terminology so we better understand your description.

The more organized and knowledgeable you are the more help I will give. The parts guy almost instantly knows whether you are experienced at working on airplanes or not. He even forms an impression as to your abilities. This is all based on if you know the "jargon" and terminology and how knowledgeable you appear at the task that you are ordering parts for. 

Not knowing what you have. Make and model. Giving me the engine model but then telling me the story about how it has been modified or experimentallized. There is now no parts book or knowledge that I can use to determine what part you need.

Not answering my questions or getting a long winded answer

Not having the parts manual and expecting that I have one available for you.

My time is limited -- don't waste the parts guys time.

Part Numbers provide positive identification not only when purchased but in service. They may be needed in the future for Service bulletins or Airworthiness Directives and to order the replacement part. Not knowing what brake is on your experimental aircraft and expecting the parts house to know what brake lining your airplane requires is not acceptable -- why don't you know? If you don't know, why would you think that I would know.

Difference between an intake gasket for an IO-470 and an intake gasket for YOUR IO-470. Problem when ordering on-line. Parts men know nothing of the airplane you are working on. They only know about a generic airplane shown in the parts catalog. Modification, undocumented changes, options during purchase, service bulletin changes are all unknown by the parts guy -- but should not be unknown to you. For example, many Cessna's take a CH48110 oil filter -- except if you have complied with Cessna's service bulletin you will use a CH48108. How would I know if the service bulletin was complied with on your airplane? You need to check and not take our word for it. It may be incorrect for YOUR airplane.

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