Sunday, June 2, 2013

Having a Rubbery Time In Japan: Part Two

As promised here is the second part of Norman's blog explaining the work that is underway to get 'Roxy' ready for a speedy departure from Japan when the hoped for Russian permits come through. This section follows on from part one where Norman explained the need to replace the rubber hoses that criss cross the whole of the engine and pulse the lifeblood - oil, fuel and coolant - around the aircraft to keep it flying. These had to be checked and replaced ready for the all important CAA inspection. Norman continues...


Part 2

How best to run the engine up to operating temperature and give it a good workout on the ground? It’s quite easy in our case with the help of a strong rope and a good anchor point to tie off to. We attached the rope to the keel at the rear most point of the Gyro (under the Rudder) then attached the other end to a large eye bolt on the back of the spare luggage handling machine on the apron. We were then able to happily run the engine to full power while the Gyro was held stationary, pulling against the rope. Continuous full power was thus achieved for some minutes and the systems could be fully checked.
With some eager helping hands from the airport fire brigade, Norman re-attaches a blade to the Hub bar. Note the bolts neatly lined up ready to be fitted and the sturdy shopping basket!

The other main task prior to CAA inspection was to remount the main rotor on top of the mast. During the severe winter weather that Shonai endures, the snow can build up to perhaps 2 metres, conditions which are definitely not ideal for flying in an open topped aircraft! So, as with last year, during the main winter months I have removed the main rotor, splitting the two blades apart and storing these separately to the aircraft.

The first task now was to re-attach the blades to the Hub Bar. The whole rotor is slightly coned upwards when it sits on the aircraft as the slightly bent Hub Bar (sitting in the middle), angles both blades upwards by a small amount at their roots. Gravity then makes the tips of the blades sag when at rest, but when the aircraft weight comes to hang off the spinning rotor during flight, the rotor takes on its natural shallow cone shape again and thus reduces the stress felt overall by the blades. This means while re-attaching the blades to the Hub Bar, the middle of the rotor has to be kept higher than the tips and we use an old plastic shopping basket for support. It’s perfect for this operation! ( note: the whole rotor is upside down at this point - to tighten the Hub bar bolts)
At times like this an overhead crane comes in useful!

Re-mounting can be a tricky job if done by hand, the two blades which are bolted to the Hub bar in the middle can be lifted by one person but they are quite heavy and very unwieldy to move into position single handed. Much better then to use a crane hoist and very luckily I am able to borrow the services of one of these at the airport! Even better still, I usually have about 6 firemen volunteering to hold the rotor steady and manoeuvre the gyro directly under the blades….      

With the main rotor successfully attached, we were then able to take to the airport apron for some taxi ground manoeuvres and check that the Pre-rotator system (the device that spins the rotors up prior to takeoff) was functioning properly. Some final cleaning and tidying followed and we were now ready for inspection.
Roxy is looking pristine as she and Norman undergo taxiing trials in the Shonai Airport sunshine.

Keeping the aircraft legal and ready to fly has been a constant challenge each year that the flight has been out of the UK and this year has been no exception. Very luckily through discussions with the UK CAA, this year we were able to come up with a very neat, 2 part solution. Part 1 - my normal CAA surveyor, Brian Spurle visited me three weeks ago (at home) to check and audit the aircraft’s paperwork files (a now weighty tome that would be difficult to ship around the world) and Part 2 - another CAA surveyor, Paul Farrel, happened to be in Nagoya Japan with other work during late May and so was able to make a weekend day trip visit up to Shonai to conduct the physical inspection part of the survey. This innovative 2 part plan worked out very well and I am pleased to say that overall, through this cooperative approach we managed to re-permit G-YROX quite smoothly. 
CAA inspector, Paul Farrel shakes hands with Norman as Roxy passes her inspection.

So with “Permit to Fly” safely in hand for another year, all we now need is the elusive Russian “Permission to fly”…..

Cheers, Norman

So, with everything now ready for the resumption of the circumnavigation all we can do is hope and wait for the elusive permits from the Russians. If you haven't already done so then could you please help Norman's case by writing a letter to President Putin stating the need to let Norman fly through Russia, mentioning that it is for a good cause and that the world is watching and waiting. You can write a short message to the President via this link...
Thank you.

The Gyrox Team