Case: Changing a Skin Panel on a PC-12 in Russia
During a stormy night a step ladder had blown across the apron and hit the PC-12 in the aft fuselage section, just behind the pressure bulkhead. The skin was cut and penetrated, stringers bent and damaged.
Air Service Vamdrup sends a team to evaluate the damage and make a damage report in order to prepare for the repair. Pilatus Aircraft supported with the repair scheme and parts. New parts were specially made for the repair.
After receiving all parts in Vamdrup and tooling up, the two-man repair team was picked up by another PC-12 and flown almost 8 hours to the scene of the repair. While waiting for parts to clear customs, we started to remove all damaged parts and get everything ready for the installation of new parts. The aircraft was jacked and supported under the tail with extra stands to avoid sacking of the fuselage. The stabilizer was removed to avoid stress from the weight and twisting when removing the large skin panel.
After removing all damaged parts, the new parts were match drilled and adjusted to fit the old parts. Everything was installed to see the result and make last minute adjustments for a perfect fit. Cleaning and preparing for the sealant and installing the skin for the last time, with lots of dummy fasteners, to keep everything in place while starting the long process of riveting the 1.000 rivets.
Working with the rivet gun in the summer heat and inside the tail was a warm and sweaty job. Great care was taken as work was performed in the pressure bulk head area. Just one scratch or dent on the bulkhead and we would have an early flight home and no prize. Finishing the last perfect rivet was a relief. After that, reinstalling the stabilizer and all the bits and pieces removed for access to the repair area. Putting back the seats and cleaning the aircraft, packing all the tools - and the job was done.