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Damaged Wings

Afganistan.5 (1)Recently, we took in an aircraft to maintenance that had some upper wing damage. We bid and got the quote for repair. IMG_1715The damage was luckily relatively minor to the aircraft. I have seen much more extensive damage from things falling. This particular aircraft was in a hangar where one would presume the aircraft to be safe. Not so in this case. There was a ceiling fan above the aircraft. The fan became loose and fell onto the aircraft damaging the wing. This is not the first time we have come across this. We try our best to protect our investment. Sometimes Murphy shows up. As we open up the wing of the aircraft, we get to see parts that we generally don’t see.

In a previous life I did some work  in another country. I am reminded of an instance in the desert where we lost the use of almost an entire helicopter fleet and about 20% of a fixed wing fleet until repairs were made. I had been flying twice daily on average with a good break in the middle. Our first flight of the day was at an end and we were returning to get fuel for the airplane and ourselves. It was a clear day except for one cell that was about 30 miles southwest of our airport. I found this unique as it does not typically rain the time of year that we spotted the weather. I decided that before I commenced the approach, I would take a Kandahar Spring 2013 (46)quick picture. We shot the approach (kinda bumpy as expected) and landed without incident. Though we had a hangar for the aircraft, tribal knowledge told us to leave the aircraft outside while we went to lunch. Walking to the dining facility, it got dark quickly and started to rain. “Not a big deal” I thought. Half way there pea size hail started to fall. “This is interesting” I thought. By the time I got inside, the hail was baseball size and I had a set of bruises to show for it. At most the hail event lasted 5 minutes. The resulting damage plagued aircraft for several weeks afterwords.

Kandahar Spring 2013 (63)

Kandahar Spring 2013 (59)Kandahar Spring 2013 (61)Kandahar Spring 2013 (60)Kandahar Spring 2013 (62)Now that we were grounded, Blame and Monday morning quarterbacking was common to hear in the office. At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of everyone to protect the asset. I failed to mention that there was weather in the area to my superiors. As a crew, we did not even discuss options or contingencies for weather. Our customer paid the price in the end. We were not the only aircraft damaged that day. The time that this storm happened was right when many operations took a break due to the conditions we were operating. We noted that Mother Nature was more successful at bringing down our aircraft than the enemy was.

Back to our aircraft in the shop for the fan. There was no way the customer would expect this type of accident to happen. The hangar is relatively new and in great shape. This customer takes all the precautions to keep their investment safe.Stuff just happens. Here are some more pictures of the wing.   Oh yeah, the final count for dents from hail on the aircraft I was flying was north of 700.

A picture of the Bonanza wing without skin.

A picture of the Bonanza wing without skin.

 

This is a closeup of the wing ribs.

This is a closeup of the wing ribs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have now completed the repairing the damage to the ribs and skin.

The aircraft is re-skinned and ready for filler.

The aircraft is re-skinned and ready for filler.