When you work on a 70-year-old plane, you need to have a certain flair. And when, on something that is a little over 10 metres long, nearly one kilometre of wiring needs to be replaced, you also need to stay on top of things. This is of course not a problem for the Flying Bulls technicians. For the next few weeks, they will be working on the Chance Vought F4U-4 "Corsair".
Always have an overview – this is particularly important for the annual inspection. Karl Hitsch is the ideal man for this. This is because the experienced Flying Bulls aircraft technician works, together with his colleagues, through a checklist, which requires a high level of technical knowledge. For the Corsair, this major inspection is due every 50 flight hours or after one year. In addition to the major inspection this year, all electrical wiring is being replaced, the engine will be thoroughly checked, all hydraulic components inspected and many parts will be repainted.
At the start of the inspection, the engine will be removed from the aircraft. The engine and its mount form a unit that is known as a Quick Engine Change (QEC). This weighs around a tonne and will be maintained separately. As part of the process, the engine will be stripped of its paint and inspected for cracks. The exhaust will be given a new ceramic coating.
Whilst this takes place, the wiring will be replaced in the rest of the plane. To do this, the technicians use a "wiring manual", in which all systems and cables are detailed. However, only the start and end points of the cables are described in this. The technicians must note the route through the plane themselves. A simple trick is used in the process: "before we start, we photograph everything in the interior of the plane. From the photos, we later know how the wiring, as well as the hydraulic components, are to be put back again."
The hydraulic components were already completely overhauled a few years ago; only individual parts need to be replaced this year. The painting of the aircraft is the last step – including the interior of the plane. Four or five layers of the old paint are removed before a new layer is applied.
When all work on the aircraft has been completed, the QEC will be connected again and the Corsair can fly again. It will be ready in the middle of March, in time for the planned Flying Bulls training camp in Maribor.