Time keeps flying and week 6 came and went. This Wednesday our journey here will be ½ over.
In the last newsletter I told you that we finished the week with Dan looking for an oil leak. He thought he knew where it was coming from but a little bit of oil can travel a long way into the most inconspicuous places. He persevered on Monday only to find out that there is a hair line crack in the engine case. Time to talk with the engine manufacturer.
Unfortunately, the engine warranty is based on calendar months as well as engine usage hours. The engine exceeded calendar months and, though the manufacturer still offered some concessions, AIM Air has a large, unplanned expense and is without one airplane until a replacement engine arrives. They normally stock a spare engine but this engine had been their spare. It was placed in service a couple of months ago when they sent another engine back to the US for rebuild by the manufacturer.
The work runs in cycles so it was time to go back in the office and put on my administrative hat.
When a manufacturer, in this case Cessna, ships an airplane the technical data for the airplane includes a list of all the equipment that was installed on the airplane when it shipped from the factory. The governments, Kenya and US, typically require all of the equipment on the list to be installed and operating when the airplane is used to carry a paying passenger(s). Cessna publishes a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) that defines the minimum equipment an operator needs to have operating to safely carry a paying passenger(s) and how long the operator has to have the defective equipment repaired or replaced. This is because airplanes have redundant systems and, for example, you can safely operate an airplane with one of your radios not working if you are flying during the day when there is no adverse weather.
It is up to the operator to reference the Cessna MMEL and create their own Minimum Equipment List (MEL) based on the equipment installed in their aircraft and then submit the document to the government for approval. AIM Air had submitted their MEL to the Kenyan authorities and had received it back with some questions and requested changes. I spent the week reading through the Kenyan Air Regulations, the Cessna MMEL, AIM Air’s operating procedures, and the Pilot’s Operating Handbook looking for the answers to the Kenyan authorities comments and questions. Many cups of chai later, my research was complete.
Unlike your auto mechanic, an airplane mechanic doing an oil change removes the oil filter and then cuts it open to look for debris internally in the filter media. It is a basic skill that is often taken for granted. John, the Director of Maintenance, asked if I could document the procedure to insure repeatability. The words have been written and approved by John but I want to add pictures before calling the project complete.
A phase inspection started on a Cessna 208 (C-208) while I was doing paperwork so it was time to get my hands dirty. We haven’t maintained any C-208’s at MMS since I’ve been there so this week was an opportunity to learn new things and to try to remember things from an engine class I took 4 years ago. Several new challenges but, I am enjoying myself.
Until next letter,