Glacier Girl – P-38 Lightning Warbird – Its Recovery and Restoration

May 9th, 2012

The Loss and Recovery of a Warbird – Historical Background to the Lost Squadron

P-38J Lightning aircraft in formation over Europe, June 1944

P-38 Lightning aircraft in formation over Europe, June 1944. Courtesy U.S. Air Force

 

In 1942, a squadron of U.S. B-17 bombers and P-38 Lightning fighters , part of the 475th Fighter Group, fell prey to poor weather and navigational error, with the entire squadron crash landing onto the Greenland Ice cap.  These planes were intended to be flown to bases in Great Britain and then used against Nazi Germany in World War II.  The story of the recovery and restoration of  “Glacier Girl,” a P-38 Lockheed Lightning fighter, is a lesson in World War II aircraft technology,  arctic recovery techniques, and masterful project management in the ultimately successful warbird restoration effort.

One of the P-38 fighters flipped over on the Greenland Ice Cap

One of the Lost Squadron P-38 fighters flipped over on the Greenland Ice Cap. Courtesy U.S. Air Force

As chronicled in David Hayes’ 1994 book “The Lost Squadron: A True Story,” an intrepid group of adventurers, arctic experts, and angel investors were able to extract a single P-38 Lightning fighter plane from its burial under 250 feet of glacial ice, in 1992.   The enormity of this task only became apparent after years of prior failures in locating and retrieving the plane.  Because of  its 50 year entombment in ice, the recovered P-38 was dubbed “Glacier Girl.”

Lost Squadron P-38 Lightning after crash landing - 1942

Lost Squadron P-38 Lightning after crash landing - 1942. Courtesy U.S. Air Force

Online, one can find a wealth of information on “Glacier Girl.”  In an excellent review of the recovery effort involved, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum covered the story of Glacier Girl in its  July 2007 issue of Air and Space Magazine.  In addition, a good online video review of the many problems encountered in recovering Glacier Girl can be found at http://wn.com/SAVING_THE_GLACIER_GIRL_FROM_WORLD_WAR_II.

The History Channel created an excellent video documentary on the Lost Squadron in 2002.  Entitled  “The Hunt for the Lost Squadron,” this 70 minute documentary, created in 2002, includes interviews with many of the people involved in the recovery effort.  I highly recommend this video for Glacier Girl buffs.  Included in this documentary are several interviews with David Hayes, the author of  “The Lost Squadron: A True Story“.

The Hunt for the Lost Squadron - History Channel

The Hunt for the Lost Squadron - History Channel - 2002

The multi-year recovery effort for Glacier Girl

There is an excellent online  P-38 fighter volunteer association at http://p38assn.org . For a detailed history of what happened to The Lost Squadron, and early attempts to recover these planes, see  http://p38assn.org/glacier-girl.htm

P-38 Lightning in World War II

P-38 Lightning in World War II. Courtesy Popular Science, April 1942

Glacier Girl is now at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California.

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Pitot Tube Replacement

December 11th, 2011

Pitot tube replacement is an important aircraft mechanic job, and requires knowing the fundamentals of  Pitot-Static tubes.  The basic Pitot tube was invented by Henri Pitot in 1732.  Despite its ancient lineage, it is still useful today.  Pitot-Static tubes (also called Prandtl tubes) are used on aircraft as “speedometers.” The actual tube on an aircraft is usually around 10 inches (25 cm) long with a 1/2 inch (1 cm) diameter.  Several small holes are drilled around the outside of the tube and a center hole is drilled down the axis of the tube. The outside holes are connected to one side of a device called a pressure transducer.

Pitot Tube

Pitot tube Airspeed Probe, Airbus A380. Credit Wikipedia, David Manniaux

Pitot tube replacement

Pitot and airplane

The center hole in the tube is kept separate from the outside holes and is connected to the other side of the transducer. The transducer measures the difference in pressure in the two groups of tubes by measuring the strain in a thin element using an electronic strain gauge.  The transducer then sends a current which reflects the pressure difference. The pitot-static tube is mounted on the aircraft so that the center tube is always pointed in the direction of the air flow and the outside holes are perpendicular to the center tube.

On some airplanes, the Pitot-static tube is put on a longer boom sticking out of the nose of the plane or the wing.  The overall approach to obtaining velocity from the measured pressure difference is given below,  courtesy of the NASA Glenn Research Center.  Just bear with me, the math is not that hard!

Pitot Tube Principles

Credit NASA - Glenn Research Center

Dynamic Pressure is the difference between Static and Total Pressure

Since the outside holes are perpendicular to the direction of flow, these tubes are pressurized by the local random component of the air velocity. The pressure in these tubes is the static pressure  (ps) discussed in Bernoulli’s equation. The center tube, however, is pointed in the direction of travel and is pressurized by both the random and the ordered air velocity. The pressure in this tube is the total pressure  (pt)  in Bernoulli’s equation. The pressure transducer measures the difference in total and static pressure which is the dynamic pressure  q.

measurement~=~q~=~pt~-~ps

We solve for Velocity

With the difference in pressures measured and knowing the local value of air density from pressure and temperature measurements, we can use Bernoulli’s equation to give us the velocity. Here, and on the graphic, the Greek symbol rho is used for the air density. Bernoulli’s equation states that the static pressure plus one half the density times the velocity V^2  is equal to the total pressure.

ps~+~.5~*rho~*V^2~=~pt

 

Solving for V:

V^2~=~2(pt-ps)/rho

V~=~sqrt{2(pt - ps)/rho}

Thus,  by knowing two pressure values, the velocity can be determined in real time.

Pitot-Static Tubes and Pitot Tube replacement

Now that we know the central importance of the Pitot tube measurements, we can see how the real time measurements fit within the Pitot-static system, as shown here.

Pitot-Static system

Pitot-Static system. Credit FAA

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The Red Tail – Globalization in the Aircraft Mechanic Industry

December 5th, 2011

The documentary film “The Red Tail” was produced in 2009.  It reveals the impact of  globalization and outsourcing on some Northwest Airlines (NWA)  aircraft mechanics.  In 2005, Roy Koch, along with 4,400 airline mechanics, custodians, and cleaners, went on strike against Northwest Airlines, then the fourth largest airline in the world. Northwest, otherwise known as “The Red Tail” by its employees, wanted to lay off 53% of their union and outsource their jobs. What ensued was a 444-day strike that would end with 4,000 union members out of work, including Roy. The film effectively documents the loss of employment of many unionized NWA aircraft mechanics, and follows the work, as it became outsourced to aircraft mechanics in Hong Kong. The documentary has widespread implications for the entire aircraft mechanic industry, and reveals just how slippery a slope the globalization of labor has become.  Here is the official trailer for The Red Tail.

You can follow the movie producers and keep up with current news at their Facebook page,

https://www.facebook.com/TheRedTail

The aviation maintenance industry is only one of many industries impacted by outsourcing and globalization. In Massachusetts, in the 1970′s and 1980′s,  I saw a similar trend develop in a remarkably similar way to the overseas outsourcing of aircraft mechanic labor.  There, a thriving shoe manufacturing industry was entirely wiped out by a migration  to lower cost Southern U.S.  shoe manufacturers.  These same U.S. manufacturers  were in turn wiped out when  lower cost shoe manufacturers were found in the Asia-Pacific region. The entire globalization phenomenon has already had a profound impact on the working class in America,  and has been documented in several recent books, most notably Arianna Huffington‘s  2010 book, “Third World America.”

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Veto Pro Pac XL Tool Bag

November 29th, 2011

Why You Might Want a Veto Pro Pac XL Tool Bag

Many aircraft mechanics use tools which are organized out of a toolbox. A common technique is to store tools in a Sears Craftsman Tool Box, or equivalent.   But sometimes  current job market conditions require you to take a job four states away, or you might be offered an overseas contract.  Also, some aircraft mechanics either work out of their car for a few months a year, or need to have a lot of job mobility.  Under these conditions, many aircraft mechanics prefer the  Veto Pro Pac XL tool bag.   If you are in school getting your A and P license, this is the last tool bag you will need to buy, because it is built to last.  The cost of this bag is not cheap, but you can get the XL Model on amazon.com for $145. There is no better tool bag than this one.   You can store your whole tool box inside of the XL Model, generally.  It may be heavy after you load it with all your tools, but at least you have them, and you are not going to lose any tools.

Veto Pro Pac XL

Veto Pro Pac Closed Top Bags. Courtesy: vetopropac.com

Veto Pro Pac XL – From the Manufacturer

“The award winning, Model XL is the workhorse in the VETO PRO PAC line of professional tool bags.  It features 67 pockets of varying size and holds over 100 hand tools. The MODEL XL is perfect for anyone who needs to store, transport and quickly access a wide variety of hand tools. Measures- 9.5-Inches W by 16.5-Inches L by13.5-Inches H (20.25-Inch H Handle Up)”

Product Description

“Pro Pac tool bags are renowned for their unique patented fixed-center panel design and durable construction. The layout and functionality of these bags is nothing short of brilliant. The vertically tiered pockets on either side of the fixed center panel allow clear visibility, instant access and maximized storage. Zippered covers protect and conceal the contents for transportation or storage. The bags are constructed of PVC impregnated 1800 Denier weatherproof fabric. The durable waterproof base is made of a 3 mm thick polypropylene. The over molded ergonomic hand grip along with a non-slip padded shoulder strap provide comfort while transporting. A 5 year warranty is included. ”

You can get  a nice description of the usage of the XL Model at http://www.myaandplicense.com/a-tool-bag-for-aircraft-mechanics/ . The three models – Veto Pro Pac XL, LC, XXL – are reviewed in the following video:

 

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Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA)

November 15th, 2011

In aircraft maintenance, Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) is an approval granted by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a manufacturer of replacement aircraft parts.  PMA is a combined design and production approval for modification and replacement equipment.  It allows a manufacturer to produce and sell these articles for installation on type-certified products.  FAA Orders 8110.42 and 8120.2 prescribe the approval procedures for FAA personnel and guides the applicants in the FAA approval process.  The FAA approval process can be found at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/pma/ .

FAA Logo

PMA-holding manufacturers are permitted to make replacement parts for aircraft, even though they may not have been the original manufacturer of the aircraft.  It is generally illegal in the United States to manufacture replacement or modification aircraft parts without a PMA.  The actual FAA regulation is extremely simple:

__________________________

FAA Regulation 21.303 Replacement and modification of parts.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may produce a modification or replacement part for sale for installation on a type certificated product unless it is produced pursuant to a Parts Manufacturer Approval issued under this subpart.

__________________________

Translated into plain English, this FAA regulation on replacement parts dictates that if I want to manufacture a replacement part, say a replacement auxiliary power unit (APU),  for a type certified aircraft (for instance, a Cessna), then I first need  to obtain a Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) from the FAA to do so.  Otherwise, I’m manufacturing an unapproved part, which would be in violation of FAR 21.303(a) and the FAA could take enforcement action against me,  and just stop any further activity.  In addition, I need to obtain an FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that says , for example,  my APU is approved for retrofit installation on a Cessna.  Without this STC,  an owner who installed an APU on his Cessna would render the  airplane technically un-airworthy.

But wait, don’t despair!  If all the above gives you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, there is help available.  It turns out that an aircraft owner can install virtually anything on an aircraft, provided that an FAA Airworthiness Inspector approves the installation of a replacement part by signing off on it using FAA Form 337 in a process known loosely as a “one-time field approval.”  With a signed Form 337, the installation of an aftermarket non-OEM replacement part is just fine. This Form 337 one-time approval converts an “unapproved part” into an “approved part” for purposes of that one installation on one specific aircraft.

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FiFi – The Last Flying B-29 Superfortress

November 8th, 2011

FiFi,  a Boeing B-29A Superfortress, is one of only a few surviving B-29 bombers in existence and the only B-29 currently flying.  It is owned by the Commemorative Air Force, currently based at Addison, Texas.  FiFi tours the U.S.A. and Canada,  participating in air shows and providing flight experiences.  For prices ranging from $595 to $1495,  you can even book a ride on FiFi.  This post highlights the sometimes difficult task of doing aircraft maintenance on warbirds. The story of FiFi’s restoration is a fascinating look at aircraft engine technology from the World War II era.  Looking back, it is amazing how much aircraft design, performance, and maintenance has improved in the past 65 years.

FiFi - B-29 Superfortress - aircraft maintenance on warbirds

FiFi,The last Flying B-29 Superfortress. Credit Wikimedia Commons, robef

Fifi’s Origins

Built by Boeing at the Renton factory in Washington, B-29A serial number 44-62070 was delivered to the US Army Air Force in Kansas in 1945. Modified to meet a TB-29A standard, it served as an administrative aircraft before it was placed  in “desert storage”.  Subsequently, FiFi was returned to active duty in 1953.

Following its retirement in 1958, Boeing B-29A, S/N 44-62070, as part of a group of 36 B-29s, was relocated to the US Navy Naval Weapons Center and bombing range at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, located in Muroc Dry Lake, California.  The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) then acquired FiFi in 1971 and registered it as a civilian aircraft. It was subsequently flown to CAF headquarters at Harlingen, Texas in August 1971 and was then re-registered as civilian aircraft N529B in August 1981.

Aircraft maintenance on warbirds

The Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone was one of the most powerful radial aircraft engines produced in the United States.  It was a twin row, supercharged, air-cooled, radial engine with 18 cylinders. Power ranged from 2,200 to over 3,700 hp, depending on the model.  First developed prior to World War II, the R-3350′s design required a long time to mature before finally being used to power the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

In 2006, however, following a series of engine problems, including an engine failure which occurred during an airshow, the B-29/B-24 Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force made the difficult, but prudent decision to ground FiFi until more reliable engines could be retrofitted.  A little known fact is that the original R-3350 Wright Cyclone radial engine needed further development, and was effectively underpowered for the 60 ton B-29. Even at the end of World War II,  engine overheating problems  were common, and the engines had a tendency to swallow their own valves when this occurred.  Due to high magnesium content in the crankcase alloy, the resulting engine fires were sometimes so intense the main wing spar could burn through in seconds, and lead to catastrophic wing failure. Only after World War II was the R-3350 improved enough to allow for commercial use on other planes such as the Lockheed Constellation.

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MRO World – aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul

November 7th, 2011

A Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul  (MRO) company performs aircraft repairs at what is termed an FAA repair station. In the US, the FAA provides a list of designated repair stations at http://av-info.faa.gov/repairstation.asp. Repair stations are located outside US territory as well.  Depending on the the business environment and the needs of an airline carrier, substantial aircraft maintenance may be done entirely in the US, for instance American Airlines, or it  may be outsourced overseas, for example as is done typically by United Airlines, when it outsources some maintenance to Ameco Beijing in China.  Finally, a foreign MRO may have a substantial presence in the continental US, as is the the case with ST Aerospace in Mobile, AL.  ST Aerospace is headquartered in Singapore.

MRO - Ameco Beijing - maintenance,repair and overhaul

Ameco Beijing - a large Chinese MRO

The FAA first put in place foreign repair station regulations in 1949, when more US  aircraft began flying international routes, requiring  maintenance to be performed abroad.  Then, in 1988, there was a change in part 145  FAA regulations governing certification of foreign repair stations, which allowed  greater use of foreign repair stations for aircraft repairs to aircraft registered in the US.  This was a change in FAA regulations, and not an Act of Congress.  Since 1988, the FAA has made attempts to apply part 145 regulations equally to both foreign and domestic repair stations, in an attempt to better regulate all repair stations.  Theoretically, by requiring all US and foreign  MRO repair stations to comply with FAA regulations, a parity in the quality of aircraft maintenance across MRO’s can be achieved.

It is a daunting task to list all the worldwide (MRO) Companies.  Nonetheless, I have found a comprehensive list of  MRO’s worldwide.  This can be found at:

http://www.airlineupdate.com/content_subscription/mro/country_index.htm

In the US, a comprehensive list of 3,200 companies is available at:

http://www.bizcompare.com/companies/list-of-companies/US/Aircraft-Maintenance_1475

For instance, by looking at the China coverage in airlineupdate.com,  we see the following as registered MRO shops in China:

  • Ameco Beijing     Beijing
  • Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services Co Ltd     Shanghai
  • Flightparts (Xiamen) Component Services     Zhangzhou
  • GE Engine Services – Xiamen     Xiamen
  • GE On Wing Support – Xiamen     Xiamen
  • Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance & Engineering Co. Ltd (GAMECO)     Guangzhou
  • Hamilton Sundstrand – Xiamen Repair Station     Fujian
  • Hangxin Aviation Engineering Group – HAEG     Guangzhou
  • Lufthansa Technik Shenzhen     Shenzhen
  • MTU Maintenance Zhuhai Co Ltd     Zhuhai
  • Shanghai Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Engine Maintenance Company     Shanghai
  • Shanghai Technologies Aerospace Company (STARCO)     Shanghai
  • Sichuan Snecma Aero-Engine Maintenance Co. (SSAMC)     Chengdu>
  • Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering Co Ltd     Xiamen
  • TAECO – Taikoo (Xiamen Aircraft Engineering)     Xiamen
  • Volvo Aero Services – Beijing

For example, if you wanted to get a profile on the largest MRO in China,  Ameco Beijing, you merely need to follow the link provided by airlineupdate.com, and explore their MRO business.

FAA Maintenance Checks and maintenance, repair and overhaul

The FAA mandates several types of airplane maintenance checks, as follows:

  • A Check – performed about every 500 to 800 flight hours. The A Check is usually done overnight at an airport gate
  • B Check – performed about every 3-6 months. The B Check is usually done in 1-3 days at an airport hangar
  • C Check – performed about every 16–21 months or a certain amount of actual Flight Hours  as defined by the airplane manufacturer. This C Check is more complete than a B Check, as pretty much the whole aircraft is inspected in a C Check
  • D Check -  The Heavy Maintenance Visit (HMV). This check occurs approximately every 5–6 years. It is  the most demanding and comprehensive check for an airplane.

The amount of labor involved, and comprehensiveness of a D Check, is staggering. Upwards of 30,000 labor hours may be required. For sure, airlines are under severe pressure to keep the cost of an airplane D Check as low as possible. At times, a cost-benefit analysis may even dictate a functioning airplane is scrapped rather than have it undergo a D Check. The amount of work involved in a D Check is well described at http://www.aerosphere.com/Magazine/AERONAUTICS/aeronautics.shtml

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Where are the Aircraft Mechanic Jobs Now and How to Land One?

November 1st, 2011

You have a love for airplanes. You have studied,  obtained an A&P license from an FAA approved aircraft mechanic school, and acquired industry experience.   Sometimes, a sizable student loan has been incurred in your studies. You need a job to get the loan paid off, and get on with your life.  So, where is the work?

Based on input from the job forum at http://www.indeed.com/forum/job/Aircraft-Mechanic.html , here is a results-generating two step approach to finding an aircraft mechanic job :

  1. Go to jsfirm.com, then register and post your resume for free; big companies go there and search
  2. look at www.aircraftmechanic.org,  its a free site; there are many good paying jobs that are hiring NOW

As an example,  I went to jsfirm on Nov. 1, and found the following aircraft mechanic job listings:

aircraft mechanic jobs - jsfirm job listing for aircraft mechanics

jsfirm job listing - example

Here are some comments on the current job market from the Aircraft Mechanic forum at indeed.com.

“You don’t necessarily have to go to work for an airline to work on an airplane. There are plenty of FAA certified Repair Stations [doing maintenance, repair and overhaul - or MRO] out there. They pay well and are very stable right now. Like ’13 year veteran’ said about working for an airline; “Benefits are going down. And most are outsourcing jobs to save just a couple pennys on the dollar.”

“20 years ago, a new job was a phone call away, these days, its 4 states away, and half the pay, and minimal benefits. So if you have a stable job, keep it at all costs, the cycle will turn again in a few years, but for you new guys, think UPS and FED X, Job Security out the yang, and great pay and bennies. ” Aviation is a passion field. I wouldnt recommend it if your heart isn’t into it. Flying is what to stay away from. I spent thousands of dollars to get my pilots license in school and ended up working at UPS with a couple pilots who were furloughed.  I would recommend staying away from the giants and get with a repair shop.  Military experience is gold in the industry. If you are young I would recommend doing the 6 years and get all the free/paid training you can on the governments dime. Not to mention they have programs that pay for your A&P testing and schooling. Just a tough cycle for mechanics, with all the mergers and such, makes one feel on unsteady ground.”

Other good websites for job seekers are:

Top Cities for Aircraft Mechanic Jobs

  1.     Oklahoma City, OK
  2.     Savannah, GA
  3.     Indianapolis, IN
  4.     San Antonio, TX
  5.     Everett, WA (Boeing!)

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The Revolutionary Boeing 787 Dreamliner and its Implications for Aircraft Maintenance

October 28th, 2011

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner,  developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes, is a long-range, wide-body, twin-engine jet airline, intended as a follow-on to the Boeing 767.  Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft maintenance is expected to be significantly easier than with the Boeing 767, in part because of the use of carbon fiber composites and additionally because of designed interchangeability of its engines  (either Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 or GEnx ).  Only now, after years of delay, is the 787 starting to be deployed in significant numbers, after a late August, 2011 certification from the FAA.  The 787 is the first production carbon fiber composite airliner, with the fuselage assembled in one-piece composite fiber barrel sections,  instead of the usual multiple aluminum sheets and typically 50,000 or so rivet fasteners, used on existing aircraft.   The 787 Dreamliner is composed of

  • 50% composites
  • 20% aluminum
  • 15% titanium
  • 15% other materials

Specifically, carbon fiber reinforced plastic  (CFRP) is the primary composite for the majority of the 787’s structure, with titanium graphite composites additionally integrated into the 787 Dreamliner’s wings.  In contrast, the Boeing 777 has 50% aluminum and only 12% composites. The composite structure of the 787 enables larger windows, lower cabin pressurization and overall higher cabin humidity. Regarding composite repairs, in the publication Boeing 787 from the Ground Up, it is concluded:

 

Boeing 787 Roll-out

Boeing 787 Roll-out. Credit: Yasobara, Wikipedia

 

“In addition to using a robust structural design in damage-prone areas, such as passenger and cargo doors, the 787 has been designed from the start with the capability to be repaired in exactly the same manner that airlines would repair an airplane today — with bolted repairs. The ability to perform bolted repairs in composite structure is service-proven on the 777 and offers comparable repair times and skills as employed on metallic airplanes. (By design, bolted repairs in composite structure can be permanent and damage tolerant, just as they can be on a metal structure.)

Also,

“Improved and expanded monitoring, advanced onboard maintenance systems, and e-enabling technologies make real‑time ground-based monitoring possible. This will aid in troubleshooting the 787. Airplane systems information and fully integrated support products will help maintenance and engineering organizations quickly isolate failed components and reduce return-to-service times. Boeing expects the 787 to show a reduction in NFF removals of 58 percent compared to the 767, reducing yet another major cost driver for 787 operators.”

 

CFRP Expected to Dramatically Lower Maintenance Labor Costs

Corrosion and fatigue in a structure add significantly to the unscheduled maintenance burden of an airline.  Historically, unscheduled maintenance frequently doubles  the total labor hours expended during a maintenance check.  With the expanded use of composites and titanium, combined with getting smarter about the usage of aluminum,  Boeing expects the 787 to have much lower unscheduled maintenance labor costs than a more conventional metallic airframe.  In addition to using a robust structural design in damage-prone areas,  such as passenger and cargo doors, the 787 was designed from the start with the capability of being repaired as if the airplane had a conventional aluminum construction — with bolted repairs. The ability to perform bolted repairs in composite structures is proven on the Boeing 777 and, on a composite, comparable repair times and skills are required, as on metallic airplanes.

In summary, the reduced risk of corrosion and fatigue associated with composites combined with the composite repair techniques  lowers overall maintenance costs and maximizes airline revenue by keeping airplanes flying as much as possible.

In addition to longer intervals between scheduled maintenance checks, the 787 program projects that the labor hours content of maintenance costs will be reduced by 20 percent on a per-airplane check basis and total scheduled labor hours will be reduced by 60 percent over the life of the airplane.

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The Brave New World of Jet Engine Maintenance

October 5th, 2011

Rolls-Royce has a long history of excellence in the automotive and aircraft industries. Mastery of both jumbo jet engine technology and jet engine maintenance  techniques has propelled Rolls-Royce into market leadership in this sector of the aerospace industry. A BBC documentary video was created in 2010, revealing Rolls-Royce jumbo jet engine manufacturing and technology in “How to Build a Jumbo Jet Engine.”  According to the BBC,

“As Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner makes its inaugural flight, Rolls-Royce engineers celebrate the performance of its revolutionary Trent 1000 jet engines. They’re the latest in a family of sophisticated aero engines that have driven Rolls-Royce to become world leaders in the market for jumbo jet engines.

This is the story of the thousands of people who design, build and test engines at Rolls-Royce’s manufacturing plants in Derby and across the UK, making Rolls-Royce a central part of life for the people who work there.

Exploring some of the astonishing technology behind the engines’ advanced components, the programme meets the skilled engineers who design and build them, and experience the ups and downs of life on the assembly line.”

The initial video in this series is available online here . Rolls-Royce logo

Rolls-Royce Trent 900 Engine - Airbus A380

Rolls-Royce Trent Engine, Airbus A380. Credit: Wikipedia, Kolossos

Aside from being a fascinating look at the technology and manufacturing processes of a 21st century turbo fan jumbo jet engine, a significant revolution in jet engine health monitoring has also happened. This is documented below in part 3 of this 4 part series ( watch a catastrophic fan blade failure at 10:23 of this video).  Rolls-Royce has a dedicated world-wide support team for its modern Trent series jet engines, including its Trent 800 and 1000 engines. In particular, Rolls Royce has implemented remote engine health monitoring at its Darby, UK Operations Center, as shown in the videos. The broad benefits of Rolls-Royce remote engine health monitoring are depicted online  at http://www.rolls-royce.com/technology_innovation/systems_tech/monitoring_systems.jsp .

http://youtu.be/fu7q5hxCq2w?t=12m

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