Monday, November 06, 2006

Mike Hotel Update

The hangar door's fixed and we're operational again.

In the last month, however, Mike Hotel has been grumbling and our wallets have been hurting. In no particular order, we have had the following repairs and improvements performed:

1. Replacement of the alternator. MS was in the clag when the alternator went Tango Uniform. He landed without incident, thanks to some help from a King Air on the ground with TCAS (the airport is in a non-radar environment), at near minima via the VOR approach. Guess I have to give him props for all the MSFS'ing he does. Anyway, to get the plane back operational, we had to locate an alternator and bribe one of the local pilots to fly to Pittsburgh to get it, fly the alternator to the airport where Mike Hotel was stranded, and then fly home. The damage wasn't too bad -- except for the plane rental.

2. Installation of the Standby AI. We submitted to the wallet-gouging otherwise known as Sporty's, and purchased an electric standby AI. The original plan for its installation involved moving the engine analyzer to an open spot near the throttle quadrant and installing the standby AI to the left of the turn coordinator. However, contemporaneous with failure of the alternator, the TC also went TU. Since the standby AI is TSO'd as a replacement for the turn coordinator, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out what we did: Ripped out to the TC and installed the standby AI in its place. Because nothing is cheap in aviation, however, it's installation, at the recommendation of the avionics guy who was at the airport that day, involved replacing the wiring from the circuit breaker. Five hours and $200 later, we now have no TC, but do have redundancy in the event that the vacuum system fails.

3. Servicing of the ELT. The ELT in 3978S was a thing of beauty when it came to servicing. Take out the old batteries and replace them with new ones. Four Duracell "D" batteries. (Sorry, Energizer batteries won't cut it, for whatever reason.) Relatively cheap on the wallet. The ELT in Mike Hotel, however, is of some other variant, and its replacement cost $55, plus an hour of the mechanic's time.

On Friday, MS reported that the engine-driven fuel pump may be OTS. Reports of engine surging that disappeared when he switched on the electric fuel pump. Since the annual is due this month, we moved it from the end of the month to this week. No sense having the mechanic crawling around the engine now, only to do it again in a couple of weeks.

Hopefully, we'll come out of the annual with a minimum of additional repairs. We have no other known squawks or deferred maintenance issue, with the possible exception of the strobes. Either the bulbs are shot, or the power pack(s) may need to be replaced.

On the other side of the ledger, however, the IFR Pilot attended a seminar on Saturday at the local branch of American Flyers. Co-sponsored by the FAA, the subject was "Advanced Navigation." Didn't really learn too much that wasn't already stored somewhere in the aviation trap of my mind, with the exception of a little VOR interpretation trick (determine where you are relative to the VOR by looking at the opposite side of the TO/FROM indicator and the opposite side of the needle -- slick indeed). The real motivation, however, was that every attendee received two complimentary hours in their FTD, including instructor time. This will prove great during the days where real flying is impossible due to winter WX conditions. A couple of hours shooting approaches, with some systems failures thrown in will be great! Thanks, American Flyers, for your loss-leader marketing!!! (Oh, but Mr. Instructor, that town in Columbia you were referring to is pronounced "Bow-gahtaa," not "BO-gata." Instant credibility sapper.)

And now, I need to go work, to make the money sufficient to pay for all of the foregoing.

1 comment:

John said...

Electrical failures in IMC are the second scariest thing to my mind - the first being a fire. You guys did good choosing to install the standby AI.

I seem to recall the reason you have to use Duracell batteries is that they are imprinted with an expiration date, which is required for use in the ELT you mentioned.

Strobe light tubes rarely fail, but sadly the power supplies do and are more expensive to replace.

Regarding the fuel pump, be sure to have the mechanic check the electric pump, too. I seem to recall a similar problem in an older Arrow and the culprit ended up being the electric pump, not the engine driven pump.

And if it's any consolation, it's only money and you can't take it with you ...