So there I was. Sitting in Northeast Philadelphia Airport all day, waiting for the call to head to our mysterious next destination. The call comes, the airplane is readied, and Big Boss arrives to fly to our nation's capital. As we are taxiing out for the flight, one of our pre-flight checks makes us stop in our tracks...
My airplane is a flying multiple-system computer. Lots of different computers talk to each other, and many systems are redundant as a backup. Some systems have two identical components but need both operational to be able to take off. We ran into a problem tonight as we were heading to our departure runway that made us limp back to the FBO. It's called an Attitude Heading and Reference System, commonly known as an AHRS. It contains all sorts of computer parts and also contains a sensitive gyro that helps the instruments to know what to display. It is certainly the brains of the airplane for navigation, orientation, and just knowing which way is up! There is an AHRS 1 on the left side of the airplane, and an AHRS 2 on the right side. Even though there are two of them, we need both of them working in order to fly away into the great blue yonder. Wouldn't you know that the AHRS 2 died tonight!
After quickly trouble-shooting and knowing this was bigger than we could fix, we called maintenance all over the city to see if someone was available. Seeing as it was almost 8:00 PM, it was hard to track someone down who could look at my broken baby. Meanwhile, I got Big Boss a rental car and a map of the area so he could drive the ninety miles to get to his desired destination. Did I mention it would only be a 20-minute flight if the airplane was healthy? Luckily, he took the broken-airplane news as well as he could. We will keep him updated tomorrow on our maintenance progress.
Meanwhile, I am at the hotel and sick in bed. Terry is with the mechanic now (at 11:30 PM!). They are going to switch out the AHRS box to the other side to see if it is still broken. If so, GREAT! We can order the part tonight and have it on a 6:30 AM flight out of Wichita tomorrow morning, to arrive to us at KPNE airport around 2:00 PM. The mechanic will put in the new AHRS box and remove the old one, sign some paperwork and give us a sticker for our maintenance logbooks before sending us on our way. If the swapping doesn't work? Bad news. It means it won't be an easy fix since he will need to come back tomorrow morning to take a deeper look at the entire system. And who KNOWS when we will get the airplane fixed if that happens! We will have to find out what's wrong first (please not a short in the system, please not a short in the system) before being able to order parts and have a mechanic tear into the system to fix whatever is wrong.
I have my fingers and toes crossed that it's just the AHRS box. No doubt it will be a very expensive part, but it is an older airplane (fourteen years old this year!), and things do tend to wear out eventually. In a dream world, we will land in DC to pick up Big Boss tomorrow afternoon to take him to his next mystery location. I am a little worried...my husband walks across the stage for graduation on Saturday morning. Wouldn't it be fun to be there to watch?! Come on, AHRS 2!