Sunday, May 23, 2010

Look Smart by Not Trying to Look Smart

I eat breakfast and finish packing, check out of the hotel, and make sure I have a reservation to return tomorrow. I'm out the door and into the truck at 7:25.

Before I leave, the client wants to upgrade software on their computer, so after fuelling I start engines quickly to run the computer power. The upgrade presumably went well, and I pulled back the power for them to disembark without getting blasted. They know how to secure the door, and the cabin door open light goes out before they walk away.

It's a beautiful morning, no turbulence, clear skies, airplane doesn't run hot. My heading matches the runway number at my destination, but in order to align with the runway I have to deviate from the pink line. That seems strange for a moment, but it just means that while the runway heading is the same as my en route heading, the runway does not run through the point the GPS considers to be the middle of the destination airport. I align with the runway and land straight in. I taxi in and park. They aren't quite ready for me in the hangar yet, so I unload my bags and tow them off the ramp, then sweep out the airplane.

Then I hear from the PRM. The customers' boss wants an extension on the scheduled maintenance so they can have the airplane back today. It would have been convenient if they had requested this before I took off. The airplane could have been given an extension without coming here.

Scheduled maintenance can be extended, but Airworthiness Directives can't. Typically an AD is a quick inspection to make sure that a part continues to conform to standard. The minimum interval between the ADs on this type is 100 hours, but in order to give field extensions we do them every 50 hours regardless. But hey, it's a nice day. I don't mind going for another flight back to where I started,

I put my bags back in the airplane and secure them. I am deciding what to do with the loose end of the tiedown strap when another cascade of phone calls riffles back to me. Final word is that the maintenance will proceed as scheduled. I take my bags back out. I knew that if I got the bags and in and tied down I'd have to take them out. But I also knew that if I didn't put them in, I would have to fly back, and thus would have to put them in anyway. It's the way it works.

I hang out and help open inspection panels while the airplane is inspected. One of the guys draining oil mentions that quite a bit of water came out. "Yeah," I say, "We ran out of oil so we used coffee instead. Same colour and everything. That's not a problem is it?" They ignore me. They know that even pilots aren't dumb enough to put coffee in an engine, and that my statement was just pilot-to-mechanic speak for "heh, weird, I don't know how it got there."

The AME whistles at the three page list of snags, but they're mostly just light bulbs and whining. He looks at "right cowl flap makes grinding noise when closing" and asks if he can write it off as normal. "Sure," I say, "But you know I'll just write, "left cowl flap lacks normal griding noise on closing." Everyone in aviation, yes everyone has read that same list of jokes. Don't forward it to us.

The floor of the airplane is absolutely filthy, what with the unpaved parking lot and all the melting snow, so I get a bucket and a sponge and a scrub brush and make like June Cleaver. Except in boots and an ID necklace instead of high heels and pearls.

The head of maintenance has a question about the manifold pressure/CHT snag. "How do you know which engine has the problem?"

That may sound like a whacked up question, but I understand it, and I'm covered. "I don't." I say, leaving "that's your job," unsaid. Nowhere in my paperwork does it say that the right engine is bad. It says it make 2" less MP at takeoff. It's up to them to figure out whether the left engine or the right engine is at fault. Later I find out he told my PRM I was very knowledgeable to talk to about snags. And all I'm doing is carefully making no assumptions, only stating observations. And I think I mumbled something about the wastegate.

While they work I sort through the junk in the nose to throw some things away. There's a plastic panel that probably costs $400 to replace if the part is available, but mine is broken and keeps catching on my pantleg. I confirm that it is only cosmetic, and throw it away. When this piece was made, plastic was as revered as carbon fibre is now.

Eventually everyone knocks off work for the night and I get a room.


A Squared said...

The minimum interval between the ADs on this type is 100 hours,

Are airworthiness directives different in Canada? In the US there is no set interval for compliance with airworthiness directives, it depends on the subject of the AD. There are AD's which are every time you change the oil filter, AD's which are every 500 hours, AD's which are every annual inspection, AD's which must be complied with only if you experience a prop strike, and there are AD's which are one time only. Point being that it's impossible to generalize about the compliance interval on AD's in the US. I'm wondering if Airworthiness directive means something quite different in Canada

nec Timide said...

@A Squared:

I think what 'Trix mean was that the AD with the most frequent inspection recurrance interval was 100 hours.

Most ADs I get for my plane are Transport Canada reprints of US ADs since my piper's Canadian CofA was issued based on the FAA CofA. So compliance requirements for me are the same as for the owner of a US regestered example of the same model. This is one of the very valuable and important services that TC still provides to registered owners free of additional charge.

Aviatrix said...

nec Timide has interpreted my statement correctly. Of those ADs that are recurring, none has an inspection interval of less than 100 hours, and they are all simple enough that for safety and convenience of maintenance scheduling they are all performed every time the airplane is in for maintenance. That way if one time we meet a shop that won't take responsibility for ADs (it's happened) or have to get an extension, there's no problem.

It's really stupid when you have to fly 200 miles to get your seat rails inspected.

Anonymous said...

June to Ward.... "I think you were a little hard on the Beaver last night...."

A Squared said...

Of those ADs that are recurring, none has an inspection interval of less than 100 hours,

Oh, Ok, I guess I was just reading you meaning completely incorrectly. thanks for clarifying. I'd always assumed that AD's would be much as nec Timide described, copies of the FAA ADs, at least for US manufactured planes. That's why I was scratching my head when it seemed like you were describing something different.

Is there a seat rail AD on the weedwhacker, or are you just using that as an example?

Anonymous said...

Because there is no tolerance given on ADs time wise it helps to do the recurring ADs every 50 hours so that if a 10% extension is needed for the aircraft you won't have a pile of ADs holding you up. The recurring ADs are a snap to do while in for regular maintenance anyway as most of them are simply to inspect parts of the aircraft that are already accessible while the inspection is taking place.