Q&A Engineer

1. Is Anthony working or just watching?

He is working (as always!) with Warren on the left hand engine of our P-38! ;)

2. How do you become an engineer with the Flying Bulls?

Be at the right place, at the right time, with the right licences and experience. From time to time our “scouts” will recommend young, motivated aviation technicians.

3. You doubled the horsepower of the Stearman putting in the 985. Did it really need to be doubled to get the desired manoeuvrability? And what effect does this increase in horsepower have on the airframe?

Back in the day, aircrafts were built with rather weakengines, because there simply weren’t many engines around that had the required power. So most of the time aircrafts were actually “underpowered”, with the exception of the aircrafts used during World War II. In addition, aircrafts did not reach to their full potential back then so there was room for us to increase loads, speed, etc. Generally speaking, the more horse power an aircraft has, the safer it is as the additional power is used during one of the most critical moments – the take-off. Those planes can take off on a much shorter runway and “obstacles” can be cleared a lot easier. However, there are certain limits in terms of the aircraft’s performance as the bi-plane does not only cause generate lift, but also drag.

Note that installing the R-985 in the Stearman did not change its speed limits.

Installing a bigger engine does not automatically mean you will end up with a faster plane, but yes, it will have more climbing power, shorter take off distance, more manoeuvrability andeventually less specific fuel consumption as the power for the cruise can be reduced. Last but not least: The Stearman now has a much better sound.

Technically, the installation of different engine variants is certified by the authority, by the so-called “TC” (Type Certificate) or as on the Stearman by an “STC” (Supplemental Type Certificate). Those certification requirements are to be adhered to strictly.

4. Which, of all the airplanes, is the hardest to work on (bad engineering, tight spaces, etc.)?

This is hard to say, because it also depends on the technicians’ talent!Generally, no aircrafts have been built for technicians only so it was never an important aspect in the construction process. Labour used to be cheap and things weren’t as hectic as today. It simply took as long as it took. Sometimes you need to remove a magneto to get access to a spark plug. The spark plug is off in a minute. Getting there takes an hour. Some of us say that the P-38 was built around the engines – the aircraft followed later.

5. How does the rotor head of the BO-105 work? Why is it able to manoeuvre like that on the displays, could you provide some technical data?

It’squite easy! By making it robust and not using too many moveable parts.

The main rotor head of the BO-105 were designed in the 60s! It’s a one-piece Titanium part and uses just one bearing per blade – to change pitch. The rest is taken care of by the Main Rotor Blades. Because of this almost “bearingless” design and “direct” inputs into the system, it reacts very fast and that’s why we can see these unbelievable manoeuvres (if the right pilot is behind the controls!).

6. Which require more maintenance, piston engine craft or jet turbine craft?

Time: Piston engines, definitely.Costs: Turbine engines, definitely.

7. How do you keep the polished aluminium skins from oxidizing? The Red Bull aircraft always look incredible!

Cleaning,followed by cleaning, plus cleaning and sometimes cleaning before polishing! The credit goes to our Ramp department. They keep the fleet clean. In addition to keeping the aircraft tidy it is also our first defense against corrosion. Thanks for noticing!

8. Do you make modifications/improvements of your own on your aircraft? How do you get them certified?

We do as much as possible in-house and get them certified by the so-called state of registry (EASA, ACG, LBA, FAA).

9. What ratio of the maintenance/flying hours does the Cobra have?

One flight hour equals at least approximately ten hours of maintenance at the moment. And that is scheduled maintenance only. An engine or main gearbox problem can easily increase that number in a flight season to around 20. Specifically built for military purposes, the Cobra requires more maintenance hours than, for example, the BO. This can also be traced back to the fact that the Cobra was built in the 1960s when material and design weren’t as refined as twenty years later, when the BO was constructed.

10. Is it very difficult to work in the cramped confines of the engine nacelles of the P-38?

Oh yes, definitely! It is almost impossible to see through the accessory section of the P38 engine section, so yes, many engine components are very difficult to access. Fortunately, once assembled, the P38 is quite reliable and doesn't need as much tender loving care as the radial engine aircraft. Recommendations for changing the starter and/or generator suggest removing the engine rather than trying to replace the component with the engine installed.

11. How often do you need to doa full valve clearance check on the DC6 engines? Must be a big task considering the number of cylinders.

The first valve check is performed within 100 hours of operation with a new engine, and thereafter at intervals of 500 hours. That makes 36 rocker cover gaskets to scrape off per engine, so we won't be finished before lunch!

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