One day, as I moseyed to the hangar, Don looks at me, and I could sense that the news he is about to share with me is not going to please me. “Well Ed, I’m not sure that you have the original engine in your plane. The engine’s serial number ID plate is missing.” I guess I wasn’t getting it at this point. “You see, the aircraft is not air worthy without the plate, and I will not be able to sign it off for you, unless you can find the missing plate.” Don, but the plane has a valid annual doesn’t it? “Well, it is true that there is a stamp in the book, but that only show that the inspection was not done according to the regulations.” So what is the down side? “if the plate can’t be found, and if the engine is not the one that documented in the log books, that it will be a $25,000 overhaul.” I think at this point I wouldn’t pass the medical. In fact I would probably bust the poor doc’s blood pressure thingamajig.
It took me some time to calm down. I am pretty good at appearing calm under pressure, so I’m sure Don was thinking that I just didn’t get it. Oh yeah, I sure did. I am well trained to solve problems, just ask my wife – or better not, so with my thinking cap on I went searching for the plate. My logic would tell me that I should start with the previous owner, so I did. He couldn’t recall a missing engine serial number plate. He did have a solution for me though. “Get a blank from somewhere and make your own.” This sure didn’t make me feel very good about the possible other maintenance issues Don may come across. When I put some pressure on him, he accused my mechanic possibly losing the plate. I knew that I will not be able to get any further with him on the issue, so I continued searching for a solution.
I contacted a reputable engine overhaul shop, and with the owner’s help I was able to sort things out. He pointed out to me that the serial number is also stamped on the engine block, and if it is the same as the one recorded in the documents, I am in luck. It was. Now I would pass the medical again. There is a process in place to get a replacement plate from Lycoming, he said. The number on the block and the relevant records must be verified by Transport Canada; I must make a declaration that I don’t have the plate and that it is not attached somewhere else on the engine; Transport Canada then will give me a letter confirming the authenticity of the engine; Lycoming will take my $120 and sends me a new plate; Don puts it on the engine; Transport Canada inspects the installed plate, and Bob’s your uncle. Simple – no?