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Chris in GV cockpit

Here I am in the cockpit of the mighty Gulfstream G550, N1BN. When Dave took this picture I was in the middle of a postflight inspection and light check. I had just loaded the blue "charts" disc and finished a “return to service” Planeview software functional check. You can just barely see the airport chart on DU3. I always check to make sure it actually works. Early on when the aircraft was new we had the charts fail to display a couple of times due to the data loader not communicating properly. It has been updated and very reliable lately. This particular aircraft has set a city pair speed record, from PBI (West Palm Beach) to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. It is capable of 14+ hour flights and has a maximum altitude of 51,000 feet. Our flight department generally operates at 47,000-49,000 feet and Mach 0.85. The 550 has turned out to be an extremely reliable aircraft. We have not missed any trips or experienced any delays. The support from Gulfstream is outstanding, and is a large part of the success of the aircraft. I am truly proud to work on some of the worlds finest equipment.

Chris is cabin

The interior of N1BN is elegant but simple in all neutral colors. All the seats are cloth, not leather. This helps reduce cabin noise levels to very low levels. The wood work is Ebony veneer and Ebony wood with real gold inlays. There is no stain on the wood, just a highly polished clear coat. This is an uncommon wood for aircraft interiors and very expensive. It looks great! I engineered a few modifications to the floor level air condition outlet ducts in the galley to help reduce the sound levels.. The sound of the air was louder than the engines. The interior is that quiet in flight! I performed some calibrated sound level surveys on a few large cabin jets (Gulfstream and Global Express) and was able to determine where improvements could be made. The result is an interior that is as quiet as I have ever experienced. As you might expect, no shoes are allowed inside the cabin, even for the passengers.

glider
Chris under engine

”Manus Domini” Or at least it feels like it on the take off roll. Here is what makes the G550 “Mighty”. The BMW-Rolls Royce BR-710. This has got to be one of the finest engines mankind has ever made. Each and every part on this engine is stunningly gorgeous in it’s manufacture quality and attention to detail. I hear these engines are worth about $7,000,000 each. I make sure to open the engine cowl every time the aircraft comes home. While this might seem excessive to some, our flight department uses the Gulfstream only for long trips. So, it may go all the way around the globe before I see it again. While these engines are ultra reliable, I have found a few minor problems with the IDG oil levels (generators) and the occasional minor oil leak, just a seeping “O” ring. Other than a couple of very minor issues, these things just run and run. I chose “on condition” instead of “hard time” in regards to engine overhaul periods. This way, the engine can stay on the aircraft as long as performance and bore scope inspections are good.

pilatus

We are in the middle of performing an annual inspection on our Pilatus PC-12. L to R, Chris Cuneo, Bob Gross, Rick Gerth. It is interesting to me that when we do in house inspections, the aircraft never have any squawks upon completion. However, when we use an outside company like Epps or Banyan to perform the inspections, the nose wheel falls off, or the outflow valve is stuck open due to debris dropped in there by the tech, or there are parts missing that show up during turbulence. I simply have to wonder... The Pilatus PC-12 is a quality aircraft that has become quite popular. It is a flight department favorite. However, it does not compare with the reliability and quality of the Gulfstream.

heli annual

This is a DG-808B single seat motor launch glider. It has a Solo 53HP 2 stroke engine located just aft of the cockpit. The engine and prop assy deploy with a digitally controlled electric actuator. The engine will stow automatically once shut off at altitude. Simply move the switch to “off” and the prop windmills. Then when it reaches the proper position, a prop brake engages, stopping the prop in a vertical position. The engine is then ready for the automatic stow command. If you look carefully you will notice the engine bay doors under my hand. The engine bay doors fit so well it is nearly impossible to see any seams. Even the spoilers in the wing are nearly invisible. This glider is made of carbon fiber and fiberglass. The lift over drag specification is around 50 to 1. While DG claims it can be loaded/unloaded into the trailer by 1 man, it takes at least 2 people to do it safely. DG did a fantastic job of making everything fit in the trailer properly. Very nice! The picture does not show just how well made everything is. This thing could be compared with a Ferrari. The fit and finish is spectacular. Even the trailer is a work of art.

The Eurocopter EC-135 T1, N456JC. L to R, Dave Georgic, George Fuentes, Rick Gerth, Chris Cuneo (me), Cambren Davis (the Eurocopter Tech rep) and Phil Yeager. This picture was taken during last years 12 month, periodical,  intermediate and 3 year inspection. It was quite a large inspection, requiring nearly 3 weeks of long hours. On our early production blades, we found minor manufacturing defect related cracks (550 hours since new), so we purchased 4 new blades. The list price is $127,000 each, however after a bit of negotiation, Eurocopter was willing to take the old ones in on trade. We also performed a large number of service bulletins and a fenestron tail rotor “fan” detailed inspection. I prepped the T/R blades and applied the Teflon based coating on the bearing surfaces, along with installing new bearings. This brings the fan back to new clearance specifications for SMOOTH operation!   The rotor head is a rigid design, so the ride is a bit firm and fighter jet responsive. It takes serious care to do a quality track and balance on this design, as 5mm is the maintenance manual track limit. But I have found the blades should be within 2mm for a good ride. Unlike some helicopters, this design does not respond well to having a single blade slightly out of track. The autopilot on this ship is a first generation IFR capable design and also requires significant maintenance to perform properly. A well maintained EC-135 is a great performing helicopter. Every once in a while, I actually get to fly it! What fun.

red extra
yellow extra annual

Here is our #1 Extra 300L aerobatic plane, N663JC. L to R, George Fuentes, Dave Georgic, Frank Cecilia and Chris Cuneo (me). We are performing an annual inspection. This is one fantastic piston powered aircraft. It has a Lycoming 540 6 cylinder aerobatic engine with 300HP and an inverted oil system. It also has a 6 into 1 header and a great smoke system. The aircraft is certified for + and - 10 ”Gs”. With the fuselage installed it is not easy to maintain, but with the body removed, it is simple to inspect, maintain and service. Good thing it comes apart quickly. For example, replacement of the battery takes about 9 man hours when the aircraft is together, so I install a new one every year to prevent problems. The quality of construction on the Extra aircraft is better than “world class”. It is truly a joy to maintain this plane.

Here is our #2 Extra 300L. It is much like the first, except it has a Barrett Performance Engines 315HP Lycoming. It also has the 6 into 1 header but it is equipped with “super smoke”, 4 smoke nozzles. This thing will fill the sky with smoke! It also has an S-Tec autopilot and Chelton EFIS, with TCAD. This is one very well equipped Extra 300L. It is “experimental” due to the EFIS. The added weight of the autopilot, EFIS and TCAD are compensated for by the additional HP. This aircraft performs exactly like the other. It also has an experimental MT prop, with slightly larger chord.

GV beach flyover
heli aces

N1BN on short final in St. Maarten, Yes this is real!

I use the ACES 20-20 for track and balance. Here is a ground track done today. This is good for a ground track, as long as the blades fly properly, which on this day, they do! I was able to get the ips down to 0.00 vertical and 0.04 lateral in flight. That is the best I have ever seen on this particular helicopter. The 20-20 is not the most expensive unit on the market, however, it does track quite well on the EC-135. The results are repeatable and understandable. Even if the provided solutions are a bit off, it is easy to figure out the correct solution.

heli in jacks yard

The Eurocopter EC-135 in all it’s glory. We landed at Jack Fehling’s house in Jupiter, FL Tailwinds fly in community. I made a pitch change link adjustment to fly the #2 blade up 7mm during all modes of flight. A trim tab adjustment was made to the #1 blade to fly it down 5mm  only at speed, not in hover and ground. The result was favorable. Now to adjust the #4 blade tomorrow.

Good looking bird!

heli resize

This is what is required when the landing gear needs work. Notice the missing roof in the hangar? Hurricane damage only partially repaired.

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