Thursday, 31 May 2012

31 May 1982, the day after the night before

Log Book entry:  ECU CTF .15 minutes

Translated = Engine test flight.  So the next morning we had a decision to make, had we trashed the Port engine or not?  The first thing was to check it physically and do things like look at the engine oil filters and magnetic plugs.  All looked good.  We signalled home with the circumstances and they agreed with our assessment.  We really didn't want to change it if we didn't have to.  I can't remember if we carried a spare at that time but even so it would have taken us out of action for longer than we would want.  So we started her up and then used negative pitch once again to measure the performance.  We kept a routine track of engine performance so would see any deviation.  All seemed well so we got airborne for a quick flight test and the outcome was that then engine seemed to have suffered no damage at all.  Good.

A Rolls Royce Gem engine.  Quite sophisticated for it's day but the early versions we were flying were quite unreliable.  They were prone to oil leaks and performance degradation that meant that although they were meant to last 800 hours they seldom made it past 200.  Once I returned to UK I took over the role as the Maintenance Test Pilot at Portland and was responsible for the Lynx and its engine. As part of the training courses I visited the RR Small Engines at Leavesden.  I mentioned my rather hot start to one of the engineers and as luck would have it the actual engine was on the bench for refurbishment.  We had a good look at its internals and there were no signs of heat damage at all.  It may have been unreliable but it certainly could tolerate a fair amount of abuse!

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