In a nutshell

So I talk about the fun I have at work with my little fleet of bugmashers quite a bit.  Let me fill you in on what’s been happening the last few weeks and explain (excuse?) why I haven’t been exactly regular with my postings.

You may remember I had one plane with an engine that was grinding metal off the internal bits and how that was a bad sign.  I managed to pull the prop, the engine, the turbocharger, and all the related bits & pieces off the airframe and ship them off to their respective repair shops.  I’m still waiting on the engine to come back from Texas (the silly hat state). That’s plane number 1.

Plane 2 is one of the four Embrear 120’s  we have.  It’s been in a heavy inspection check and the guy doing most of the lead work on it got a chance to go to the company’s Joe Pilot School of Airplane Driving.  He took the opportunity basically because he’d rather fly than fix.  Me, I’d rather fix.  Flyin’s fun and all, but not when you have to do it for work. (Ask my sister.)  Besides, the conversation in the flight deck goes something like this:  Positive climb, gear up, rings off, autopilot on…  At this point, who’s flying your airplane, the pilot or the mechanic who made sure the  autopilot system works? Anyway, I got this Embrear dropped into my lap and it’s been a chore. 

Plane 3 is a Piper that came in for a scheduled engine and landing gear inspection.  Day, day and a half tops, to do the whole thing.   These are not complicated little critters and it doesn’t take much to get them right.  So I knock out the check, fix the dozen or so little issues I find, then get one of my colleagues to look over the major stuff I did to make sure all the bolts are tight and the cotter pins are where they should be (standard practice in aviation, maybe your car mechanic should do the same?).  My bud finds a crack in the engine mount while checking over my reinstall of the nose gear after I rebuilt the strut.  Good on his part, not so much on mine. 

The nice thing about this version of Piper’s long line of aerospace vehicles is that in order to remove the engine mount, you have to remove, in the following order, the prop, the engine, the nose landing gear assembly, the battery, and then the mount.  Not a big deal and way easier than plane 1, but by taking off the nose gear, you make the plane unmovable.  And it’s a week’s turnaround time for the mount at the certificated shop.  So I now have three planes out of ten down for maintenance and parts.

Got the mount back last Wednesday and reinstalled everything on Thursday.  The trouble is you just can’t drop a motor into place, plug a few wires in, and off you go.  There are fuel and oil hoses, cables for controlling the throttle, mixture, prop blade pitch, cabin heat, and so on, and wiring for all the gauges, the alternator, and such.  All of this has to be routed correctly and secured so it doesn’t vibrate.  Routing is important so there is no stress on the connections and nothing is rubbing or chaffing on anything else.  Securing is pretty basic, but there are certain criteria for doing it all.  Lots of clamps and zipties and you have to work from the center out.  It’s not hard, just time consuming, detailed work. That took most of Friday. It’s been run and checked and all’s well, so they can fly it again.

And plane 4, another Embrear, is waiting on the ramp to be checked.  As long as there are pilots willing to commit aviation, I’ll have a steady job…..


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