Case: From Vamdrup to Kyzyl in a Pilatus PC-12
September 2013: Two Pilatus PC-12 aircraft are grounded in Kyzyl, the main city of Tuva region in Siberia, Russia. Annual inspections on both PC-12’s have expired and as a Pilatus PC-12 maintenance provider we have been contracted to get the two aircraft flying again. (See full description below under the photo story A to V).
The trip to Kyzyl has be planned for two months in order to get permissions and approvals from aircraft manufacturer and local aviation authorities to do inspections on site and to ferry one aircraft to Air Service Vamdrup for heavy maintenance, engine and propeller replacement. The other aircraft will have the complete annual inspection performed on site.
After completing inspections on a third of the operators PC-12 aircraft in the Vamdrup maintenance facility, mechanics, tools and spare parts are loaded on board of this aircraft. One mechanic and one avionic specialist go by airline to Yekaterinburg to meet up with the PC-12 after its flight from Vamdrup and a short fuel stop in Moscow, Ostafyevo International Airport.
From Yekaterinburg to Kyzyl with departure at 1 o’clock in the morning, arrival is 9 o’clock local time in Kyzyl. A fuel stop in Kemerovo is needed. Total flying time from Vamdrup to Kyzyl is about 15-17 hours in the PC-12.
After arrival in Kyzyl and unloading of the equipment, the work starts to defuel both aircraft and to get them in the hangar. Fortunately, the weather is sunny and warm. The inspections start on both aircraft during the defueling, and the first aircraft is put in the hangar in the afternoon as this will have the complete annual inspection and the longest stay. The second aircraft is put in the hangar the following morning. This aircraft will have a ferry flight inspection performed, as major works are waiting upon arrival in Vamdrup.
The PC-12 that has taken us to Kyzyl leaves the next morning to return to normal service in Yekaterinburg. There are only a few flights to and from Kyzyl every week with a Let-410 aircraft, so we have to finish the PC-12 inspection to get back home. Our working day is 12-14 hours every day, working on both aircraft. The task is to finish the ferry flight inspection and to do as much of the annual inspection as possible on the other PC-12 to find all faults, so that when we arrive back in Kyzyl in a few weeks, we have all spare parts to complete the inspection.
The heavy ground equipment has been driven down from Yekaterinburg, a 4 days drive. This makes it possible to get the landing gear cycled and checked, not to have to fly with the gear down all the way. Approvals from aviation authorities for the inspections away from our normal maintenance facility have been granted. Ferry flight permits as well.
Kyzyl town is in a remote part of Russia in the Tuva region - close to the Mongolian border. The next city with an airport with regular flights is 450 km away, a drive of about 7 hours. Our pilots will come this way after 4 days when we are ready for the ferry flight. The climate is very dry, and we have sunny and warm days, but cold nights.
During a coffee break, we are invited by a local mechanic to see one of the old MI-8 helicopters parked on the apron. It is a great experience!
The PC-12’s are both in a fairly good condition after being parked outside almost a year on the Kyzyl apron. There is no sign of corrosion inside the engines or on the airframes, only two navigation computers did not make it. The pilots will bring loan units from a different aircraft for the ferry flight. After the adjustments of the navigation computers, we are ready to perform a test flight to check that everything works in the air as it does on the ground. The test flight will be performed the morning after the pilots arrive and it goes well with 3 large circuits around the airport, about 45 minutes flight. All systems are found working correctly.
The ferry flight to Vamdrup starts after loading all the equipment and faulty spare parts removed from the second aircraft. A fuel stop in Kemerovo and a night stop in Yekaterinburg to get permits for the flight out of Russia, then a fuel stop in Moscow, Ostafyevo International Airport - and finally back in Vamdrup after a week on the job, but not the usual kind.
In a few weeks we will return to the second PC-12 to finish it and return it to service in the Tuva region.
Torben Biehl Jensen
Maintenance Shop Manager, Air Service Vamdrup