A Taste of Maintenance Magic

Here's a sample of the technical training offered during HELI-EXPO that will benefit the owner, the pilot and you, the maintainer – as well as the helicopter in your care.

Welcome to 2019!!

Hopefully, you enjoyed the holiday traditions that wrapped up 2018 and got through your New Years’ celebrations relatively unscathed. For the last 70 years, the Helicopter Association International (HAI) has kicked off each new year by sponsoring HELI-EXPO just for us helicopter folk. This annual gathering of helicopter manufactures, support organizations, pilots and technicians from around the world is considered our industry’s preeminent opportunity for professional education, equipment information updates and networking. This year, the three-day conference is happening in Atlanta, Georgia, from March 4-7.

As a side note, in addition to being the year’s first addition to your cocktail party trivia, here is a wee bit of HAI history. HAI — which originally chose the name of “Helicopter Council” for its first meeting — held its first get-together on December 13, 1948, when a handful of operators along with Art Fornoff, a representative from Bell Helicopter, met at the offices of AF Helicopters in “Beautiful Downtown Burbank” California. They met to form an association for the purpose of advancing the helicopter industry by disseminating helicopter information; encouraging the exchange of technical data between operators, manufactures and support companies; and fostering a positive public perception by promoting the unique contributions helicopters make to society.

For the past seven decades, HAI has not drifted from this original mission statement, nor the purpose of HELI-EXPO.

I believe we can all agree that the marvelous mechanism that is a helicopter has never been simple in operation and maintenance or static in design and development. This makes the technical skill set required by both the helicopter technician and helicopter pilot unique and dynamic. And where better to keep informed about our professions and the equipment we maintain and fly than at the main gathering of helicopter equipment manufacturers, and helicopter support companies. Besides all the displays of the latest rotorcraft technology, HELI-EXPO offers a smorgasbord of educational opportunities for the helicopter professional, as well as the opportunity for networking with your fellow rotorcraft professional. This exchange of helicopter technical data remains today as part of the original Helicopter Council’s mission statement to keep both the helicopter technician and pilot at the top of their game.

Let me give you a sample of the technical training offered during HELI-EXPO that will benefit the owner, the pilot and you, the maintainer – as well as the helicopter in your care. I’ll be teaching a class called “Turbine Engine Hygiene,” listed under “HAI Rotor-Safety Challenge, where you can learn how to diminish the effect of two thieves – erosion and corrosion – that are depleting your maintenance fund and robbing your engine of power. Both of these operational miscreants evolve from the engine physics of compression and combustion, as well as our atmospheric environment.

Erosion leads the assault as air flows through the engine during the process of compression, wearing away the rugged exterior surface coatings of compressor blades and stators. With the help of a 3,500-degree flame, the now-hot, expanding and accelerating air also abrades the durable exterior of the turbine blades and guide vanes. This removal of exterior coating and metal on these surfaces produces the opportunity for the development of corrosion through the composite of airborne moisture and airborne contaminants: smog, gaseous and particulate pollutants, sulfur dioxide, salt and nitrogen oxide. This cocktail of moisture and contaminants are deposited on the now-vulnerable engine components and begin immediately feasting on their structure.

So, wanna learn how to mitigate the effects of the turbine engine’s two most destructive environmental elements? If this sounds interesting, I will be reviewing simple engine and money preservation tactics on Wednesday, March 6, from 0915 to 1015. Location is TBA but will be in your registration documents when you register for HELI-EXPO. Don’t delay; get registered and learn how to keep erosion and corrosion at bay as well as other fresh and imaginative maintenance tactics. Remember, my class is just one of several available to you, all designed to help you perform your maintenance magic more efficiently.

I look forward to seeing you at HELI-EXPO – and remember, even the best pilot can’t fly until you say it is OK to fly!

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