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Saturday, February 1, 2003

MTU Opens China Facility



Paul Grall, MTU executive vice president in charge of civil maintenance, celebrated the grand opening of MTU Zhuhai at a November 5, 2002 ceremony heralding the company’s newest facility, located in Zhuhai, China.

Work on customer engines began in early December at the facility, which is a 50/50 joint venture between Germany’s MTU Aero Engines and China Southern Airlines. Nearly $190 million was invested in the new company, according to MTU. The new MTU facility can handle up to 150 engines per year and will focus on the International Aero Engines V2500 and CFM56 series. MTU Zhuhai is targeting China and the Asian marketplace for engine work, and its location in the Zhuhai Free Trade Zone should help ease transportation of engines to and from Zhuhai. More than 100 technical personnel traveled from China to Germany for on-the-job training.


Cessna Picks P&WC Engine For Mustang Personal Jet

Pratt & Whitney Canada penetrated the small turbofan engine market dominated by Williams International when its PW600 was selected to power the Cessna Mustang light jet unveiled at last year’s NBAA convention.

The Mustang will use the P&WC PW615F version, which is flat-rated to 1,350 pounds of thrust. It should gain type certification in late 2005.

In a related development, P&WC has completed the first test runs of the engine for Dassault Falcon’s 7X business jet. Flat rated at 6,100 pounds of thrust, the PW307A has been run for more than 48 hours, including time at its maximum rated thrust.


Diamond Diesel Twin Makes First Flight

Diamond Aircraft’s first diesel-powered Diamond DA42 TwinStar made its maiden flight late in 2002 from the company’s Austrian factory with CEO Christian Dries at the controls.

The first flight on December 9, 2002 took place on schedule in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, 55 weeks after the company announced the aircraft program. The glass-cockpit aircraft was to fly daily thereafter.

The TwinStar’s Thielert Centurion 1.7 engines are certified to operate on both diesel and Jet A1 fuel. Diamond intends to have the aircraft achieve a low fuel consumption of 10 gallons per hour at 180 knots.

The company plans to achieve JAA certification of the $360,000 TwinStar by the end of 2003, with North American certification and initial deliveries planned for mid-2004.


Feds: Mechanic Chocked Engine

A Frontier Airlines mechanic faces federal criminal charges after he allegedly threw a wheel chock into the running engine of a Boeing 737 in Denver, Colorado because he thought the aircraft was not safe.

The mechanic, Corydon Van Dyke Cochran, reportedly wanted to prevent takeoff of the Dallas, Texas-bound flight on New Year’s Day because of concerns about whether an adequate lightning-strike inspection had been done. Federal officials said he decided that disabling an engine was the only way to ensure the aircraft did not depart. Cochran was suspended by Frontier pending an investigation. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted, according to federal prosecutors.


Lycoming, Service Centers Begin Crankshaft Installations

Fifteen authorized service centers on January 7 began reassembling Lycoming engines affected by Service Bulletins 550, 552, and 553. The move followed FAA certification of a revised production process set up after crankshaft failures led to a fatal accident and cracked crankshafts.

Lycoming expected 20 to 30 engines to be completed each day, with all the affected engines finished early in the second quarter of 2003.

The company’s crankshafts are made by a supplier, with which it is working to insure that production processes are followed. On each crankshaft, Lycoming is performing Charpy tests (which involve analysis of a snapped-off piece), checks using a scanning electron microscope, and more frequent quality audits of the supplier.

Lycoming estimates the cost of providing new crankshafts for the approximately 1,000 affected engines at $35 million. This includes the cost of reimbursing owners for some of their fixed costs and travel expenses while their airplanes are grounded. Owners who wished to be reimbursed must sign a release agreeing not to take legal action against Lycoming regarding the crankshaft situation.


Air Midwest Crash Puts Spotlight on Maintenance

The January 8 crash of an Air Midwest Raytheon/Beech 1900D focused federal and public attention on that airline’s maintenance.

The 1900D, operating as a USAirways Express flight, crashed on takeoff from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. Investigators for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said the airplane’s flight data recorder showed a normal liftoff, followed by a pitch-up to 52 degrees, then a loss of control. The 1900D went into what one NTSB official described as a hammerhead roll, breaking to the left, then spun to the ground. It crashed right beside a US Airways maintenance hangar, killing all 21 people on board.

There were no indications that wake turbulence or icing were factors. There was some dispute prior to departure regarding weight-and-balance of the flight.

The crash came less than 48 hours after the aircraft’s elevator system had been worked on and re-rigged at a Raytheon Aerospace facility at the airport in Huntington, West Virginia. Raytheon Aerospace has contracts to supply maintenance and parts for Air Midwest.

The FAA asked Air Midwest to inspect the elevators of nine 1900Ds recently worked on at that facility. The airline checked them and six other 1900Ds in its fleet and reported finding no problems, and inspected the elevators on all of its 43 1900Ds.

NTSB investigators interviewed maintenance personnel at the West Virginia facility and reviewed maintenance records at Air Midwest’s Kansas City, Kansas headquarters within days of the crash.


New Firm Offers Certification Help

Greg Wilson, the former director of certification programs for Sandel Avionics, has launched a new company to help clients with avionics certification issues.

Avionics Certification Services, based in San Marcos, California, will offer a broad array of services, including management of certification activities during product development, environmental test plan development and approval, software review and approval, and development of certification software plans. ACS will also help with STCs, creation of approved data for field approvals, assistance with PMA part certification, avionics installation design, software certification gap analysis, and witnessing of certification testing.

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