As with everything else in life, airplanes need to be repaired and maintained. This is the time of year when I go through both airplanes and fix the small things that broke during the summer, like instrument backlights and a small tear in the headliner. There were several things that had to be fixed when they broke so that I could continue flying, like fuel pumps and steering rods. While the hangar is not complete it still has been asset to maintaining the airplanes. Have you seen the pictures of the great progress? I have benefited from the concrete slab and this coming week I will use the overhead crane beam to take the floats off the Maule and go back to wheels.
Speaking of the Maule, it goes to MARC November 1st for the annual inspection. This year it is going to be a big one. We have to comply with an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that requires that the engine crankshaft be replaced. Apparently there were quality control issues during the forging process and there is a very remote possibility that it may fail in flight without warning. If that were to happen the propellor would most likely depart the aircraft. There is nothing good about that scenario. While an AD is kind of like a recall on your car it differs greatly in that the owner is responsible for the cost not the manufacturer. Thankfully we have found a serviceable crankshaft (read used but still within specs) which will cost much less than the $16,000 list price for a new one. The labor cost for the tear down and replacement will be reduced greatly because there is a team coming from Moody’s aviation training program that will use this as part of their curriculum. As a LeTourneau grad part of me twitches to think that Moody students will be rebuilding my engine. Sorry, couldn’t resit the urge to poke at our longtime rivals…
Other known issues we plan to take care of at this annual is to repair the auto pilot servo. It has been flaky for a while and has a tendency to only do standard rate left hand turns. We will also upgrade the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) to the newest standard and technology (406 mHZ with internal GPS).
Airplanes are not cheap but they are a very effective tool for ministry here in Alaska. Last week I was able to help another mission agency get some of their people out to visit and encourage some of their staff in a remote village. We are currently coordinating with a church in Fairbanks to get out to a village they have worked in for many years that suffered a horrible tragedy of a double homicide. Once the Maule is back from the annual we will put it on skis and get out to our friends who live in the bush. All of this is possible because of your partnership and God’s provision! If you are interested in ways to help visit our On Going Projects page.