Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spinning Our Wheels

While we're waiting for the part, we go out and work on the airplane to see if we can find another cause that doesn't require a new part. I think it's a bit like looking for your lost contact lens in the spot that has the best light, but what else do we have to do? It's also kind of entertaining seeing how everything comes apart. We know the fuel isn't getting to the engine fast enough at full throttle, so maybe it could be a fuel flow blockage somewhere.

While the AME works on the main problem, the pilots go to work on some small snags. There's a cowl flap position indicator light that I complained about being unserviceable, then they changed the bulb and now I complain about it shining in my eyes. I get down to figure out what its problem is. The cowl flap position indicator is lit from the side, just a little bulb tucked under the side of the mainly cosmetic in the centre console area. The problem is that the little curved bit right at the edge of the cowl flap indicator has broken off, possibly they broke it while installing the new bulb. So instead of shining sideways and illuminating the indicator, it shines up into my face. The plastic is black, the same colour as an Aeroshell oil bottle, and the Aeroshell oil bottle curves all different ways in different parts. It's like working with an ogee in drafting. I turn the clean dry bottle around and around in my hands until I find the right curve to match the missing one, then I cut out the piece with my Swiss Army knife and fashion a shield to deflect the light. It works perfectly and my coworker declares that it "looks real."

Meanwhile he has one hand, a screwdriver, and a flashlight inside an access port fixing the cowl flap position indicator itself. It has been registering half open when it is fully open. He tweaks the sender one way and now it registers a quarter open when it is fully closed. After a lot of fiddling he gets it to show closed when it is closed and almost all the way open when it is fully open. The AME says it will probably fail completely soon, and he has ordered the part.

The AME does not remove the unserviceable HSI because his licence doesn't permit him to take it apart anyway, and he hopes to have a good avionics shop in Edmonton look at it in situ, which will be quicker and less expensive than removing it and shipping it.

He also can't put on the new tire, not only because we don't have a jack, but also because we don't have the right paperwork. The tire company sent was purchased for another airplane in the fleet in a two-for-one sale, and the certification for both tires was on the same piece of paper, which is in the other airplane's technical log. Or somewhere. We have to get it before this tire can be legally used, to prove that it isn't counterfeit.

In the morning we clean and apply Ice-X to all the pneumatic boots and the rubber over the electrically heated props. We don't get quite to the top of the vertical stabilizer because we don't have a tall enough ladder to do it safely. When the AME thinks he may have solved the fuel flow problem, we haul the airplane outside and test it.

The tow cart starter battery is dead the first time we try to start it, but there are two battery carts in the hangar, so we jumpstart it and leave it running after the tow.

We run the engine for just a short time with the cowl off, but it quickly demonstrates the same problem. That's the way the day goes. We go for lunch, then come up with the idea that with all the smoke maybe the air filter is clogged. It looks good, and doesn't really match the symptoms, but we're grasping at straws now. We run the engine with the entire air filter box removed. No difference.

When the Greyhound bus comes in we go out to get the part, but are told that it hasn't arrived yet. Greyhound has no tracking system, so you just have to wait.

In the evening I watch Spinning Boris, a movie about American election consultants working for Boris Yeltsin in Russia, based on a true story. I mention it merely because it appears to have been partly filmed in Canada. There are only Canadian airplanes visible in the scene at the "Moscow" airport. No attempt has been made to hide the prominent Canadian registration on one, or even a Canadian flag and a Canadian corporate logo painted on another. I wonder if it was easier to get filming permits at an airport in Canada than the U.S. The scene is at night and I don't remember there being snow on the ground, so it's not like they came here for the scenery.

1 comment:

Captain Dave said...

Ice-X! I used a lot of Ice-X in my freight flying days and it was miraculous stuff. Any pilot who has to use Ice-X is doing serious aviating.