We dropped off My Baby last week at the local airplane hospital. It has been feeling a little under the weather, so it was high-time My Baby get some attention from a licensed professional. I got lonesome for it today and dropped in to visit with some chicken noodle soup and Kleenex. My soup was rudely turned down. Instead, I just sat there and talked to My Baby, assuring that all would soon be better. I think I was saying it more for me.
Though we had a boo-boo that made us bring the airplane in for some fixin', we decided to make good use of the down-time and had some soon-to-be-due scheduled maintenance performed as well. We needed to pull out the nitrogen and oxygen bottles to get re-certified. Did you know it takes eight man-hours to pull those things out? When the Japanese designed the airplane, they thought it would be a great idea to bury the huge bottles in the nose of the airplane underneath several hundred thousands-worth of avionics and computers. Isn't that cute? Everything had to be gingerly yanked out, lovingly wrapped to prevent dust, and gently placed on a holding rack before the mechanic could finally dig out the bottles. We found out today that our bottle is outdated and needs to be scrapped in just seven months anyway. Rather than spending another $1,400 then to do it all over again, I just ordered a new bottle today. It will be here tomorrow, which will help in the diagnosing the whole reason My Baby is sick in the first place.
It's actually the right engine that isn't feeling well, but they swap parts to the left engine to see what works and what doesn't. Because of the indications in the cockpit, we thought it was an Engine Fuel Control (EFC) unit that had failed on the right side. This little guy helps compute accurate fuel to give to the engine for maximum efficiency. When it isn't operating, the engine has to do more thinking and consequently doesn't do as well. So they switched the EFC to the left engine, but the problem still remained on the right side! After talking to Pratt and Whitney of Canada, which manufactures our engines, my mechanics trouble-shot for several days to eliminate possible problems. The ironic thing is they didn't figure out what was wrong before the bottles had to be pulled to be sent off for re-certification. And engine runs can't be done with the nose and avionics bay wide-open! So we are waiting for the bottles to get back so new engine runs can take place to pinpoint the disease. The mechanics said today they are hoping it is simply a faulty connection that can be fixed with a little cleaning and possibly a new connector (I made sure they work on that while we wait for the bottles to joyfully arrive). This made my heart sing, as I know how much the big part costs! I hope we don't need to replace the Hydro-Mechanical Unit, or HMU. It is the brains for the entire engine and comes with a price tag that makes small children gasp. In the meantime, not much work can commence to figure it out in the next few days. It's always hurry-up-and-wait in aviation!
I like the guys at Hawker Beechcraft in Mesa. Because of how often My Baby needs work, we are there enough that they know me by name! And they always treat me so well. We are very happy customers. It helps me sleep better at night knowing the people who manufacture my airplane are also working on it to make it all better (Hawker Beechcraft bought the design from the Japanese in the mid-1980s). These guys are very experienced and know what they're doing. There are almost six-hundred Beechjets in existence in this big ol' world, and they all get work done by these gentlemen. I feel safe with them. I am just glad I don't have the write the check!
They get to work on My Baby for another week, but I hope we have a successful diagnosis soon so the parts can be ordered. There is nothing better than flying a healthy airplane!