Monday, August 19, 2013

I'm Not Even the PRM

As pilot in command of an airplane I have to be assured that all the maintenance is done as both safety and legality require before I take to the skies. When I came on with this company they had a problem with missed maintenance events, so I made them an excel spreadsheet with conditional formatting to colour events close to due in bright alerting colours. Every once in a while a new thing that I should have been tracking but wasn't is unearthed, either because I set up the sheet based on the aircraft manufacturer's intervals and the component manufacturer had a more specific requirement, because the requirements are amended, because I made a false assumption or because I just plain missed something. Today it was determined, I think through researching an STC, that a particular check valve, if it was one of two particular possible models, is due for replacement ten years from the date of manufacture. I pulled off the panel under which the check valve lurked and determined with a flashlight and determined squinting that the part was of one of the specified model numbers, dash four. I don't know if the -4 radically changes the life expectancy of the part. I just relay this information to the AME.

And then I go and do some other things slightly more piloty. Or maybe less. I think it may have involved getting a return authorization for oxygen regulators that were adjusting themselves in flight, leaving two crew members with hypoxia in the first week we used them. We stopped using them after that.

And then back to the check valve. Dash-4 or not it still needs to be replaced ten years after manufacturing, so the AME goes back into the panel, with a flashlight and a mirror, hunting for a date. There's a straight line in the manufacturer's label that has been scratched off. Was that the date. I joke and ask him can't he determine the model year from the colour and styling? We kind of suspect that if this check valve were a Volkswagon Beetle it would have a split windscreen and tiny red tail lights. "I'll order one now," sighs the AME.

And then after I went back to my computer, the ops manager kicked me out for working too long a day.

14 comments:

john hawkins said...

Classic over Achiever symdrome

RTD8450 said...

Aviatrix - I would LOVE to fly anywhere, any time with a pilot - YOU! - who takes your very difficult job so seriously. Cheers from here!

grant said...

Recently Transport Canada was ramp checking locally ... it came to light that ordinary fire extinguishers have a mandatory "replace/recharge by..." date. Who knew. It's something like 12 years after manufacture. Mine was just about due...

Aviatrix said...

I knew. Our fire extinguishes have thirty-day and annual inspections plus a twelve-year hydrostatic test date. All on the spreadsheets.

But Transport Canada checking on them ... let me guess, it was a nice day, and right before the long weekend?

DataPilot said...

I don't doubt that you're not the Precision Runway Monitor. Your blog post give the distinct impression that its author is human. Thus, I remain stumped.

What the heck is "the PRM"?

Sarah said...

PRM: Professional Risk Manager.

Not really, but that is so close. The "P" stands for person. How delightfully neutral.

Aviatrix said...

PRM = "Person Responsible for Maintenance". They are the one who goes to jail if the fire extinguisher doesn't get its 12-year hydrostatic test. The PRM may or may not be a pilot or an AME. It's just someone who has taken on the responsibility. If they aren't an AME, they have to see that an AME (Aviation Maintenance Engineer) does the work.

DataPilot said...

Thank you for clearing up my confusion over the meaning of "PRM". When I see an aviation acronym that I don't recognize, I'm never sure if it's due to a difference between Canadian and US terminology, or if I'm simply showing my age.

When I worked for an FBO in the early 1980s, our head AMT (Aviation Maintenance Technician) was the person responsible for ensuring that required maintenance took place on schedule. But hat was a long time ago, when phones were just phones, only wealthy geeks had computers, and only wealthy geeks who liked playing with money knew how to use an electronic spreadsheet. The idea of one of our pilots voluntarily creating a color-coded Excel spreadsheet to keep track of maintenance due dates was pretty much unimaginable. Our maintenance records were scattered between aircraft logbooks and filthy, spiral-bound notebooks stashed in the back of one of the hangars. And that was pretty much the norm.

Some things have changed for the better.

Sarah said...

This whole thread is reminding me of responsibility hanging heavy on me at the moment. I'm the "person responsible for maintenance" in the looser US sense, for a light aircraft in a flying club.

At the moment, it is down because of a simple fault. The mixture control cable is broken.

You might think this is no big deal, but with the current state of 30 year old airplane Beechcraft spare parts, this cable may as well be made of unobtainium. The best certifiable option found so far involves a custom part fabrication, a 2 month wait, and $800 for a part that looks like a bicycle brake cable.

arrrrgh

Cedarglen said...

Sounds like time well spent. If you don't lend a hand to the AME once in a while, you may not have that big noisy thing in which to do some piloty stuff.

D.B. said...

Sarah, have you tried posting WTB mixture control cable on the BeechTalk web page site? About half of all Beech owners belong, and there are people who have salvage yards where you can get slightly used parts with a yellow tag for much less (and quicker) than ordering new. One of the biggest ones is Air Salvage in Lancaster TX. The owners name, is appropriately enough, "Lucky".

Sarah said...

Hi DB, thanks.

I've looked through beechtalk -- also BeechAeroClub forums and ads. No joy. Google fails me with the part number too. I looked at the TX salvage yard but didn't see the part listed on the web. I'll call them.

The airplane is a C23 Sundowner, by the way. Didn't you once own one?
Coincidentally
... I'd call but I think the insurance company owns the part now.

Aviatrix said...

Hee, the difference between club operations and commercial. Last time we had a broken mixture cable I was in the field with a ferry permit and bad weather between me and a company maintenance base. We found a shop halfway that could do the job and I was told to fly home if I could, but otherwise to stop at that shop. I distinctly remember the PRM saying, "The cable is only $400, so I rush-ordered two." One went to our home base and one to the halfway shop. I believe the part itself cost considerably less than the labour required to install it. We still have the spare in our stores.

Sarah said...

Not sure it's a club/commercial difference. A certificated part is simply not available, as far as we've been able to find. An acceptable part can be manufactured, with a 2 month lead time, and that has been ordered. If only we could order a $400 cable, we would...