As this is an extremely involved and fairly lengthy upgrade we’ve decided to try something new and keep our readers updated on a weekly basis.
We’re now into week three of our Beechcraft Duke project and work is in full swing! Our team has de-modified, and removed all existing systems, resulting in significant weight reductions. Removals include an unnecessary inverter system, hundreds of feet of superfluous wiring, and the instrument air vacuum distribution system, including two regulators and associated plumbing. Deletion of this air system was made possible by plans to completely replace all vacuum gyros with a new glass panel (more on that next week).
Lastly, two 50 pound ballast weights were found in the nose baggage bay. Because of the discovery of these weights, our team is now investigating the possibility of mounting more new equipment in the nose rather than in the aft fuselage. This would hopefully improve the operational centre of gravity, negating the need for nose ballast and saving even more weight.
After removing major systems, the team proceeded with wiring clean up and repair behind the panel. This involved the removal of old wiring followed by a panel layout review. Other additional work that week included a new spoiler lighted switch, autopilot system repairs, and progress on avionic wiring and interface prefabrication. Engine monitor probes continued to challenge us, as the probes received did not fit the threaded bosses on the intake manifold. New versions have been ordered to correct that issue. This will ultimately result in a working intercooler display.
Like many major projects, there have been some unexpected discoveries during disassembly. For example, physical inspection revealed that existing autopilot system differed significantly from the drawings we have on file. Interfacing this system our new equipment therefore necessitates that we either acquire relevant drawings, or reverse engineer the wiring installation through inspection and testing.
In addition, to avionic challenges, there were a number of structural surprises as well. A previous unapproved installation had mounted tubing through a pressure vessel without proper sealing. By repairing this defect, our technicians were able to eliminate excess cabin noise caused by whistling air – a source of complaint for our clients. Next, an outboard hinged panel in the forward baggage bay which provides access to an under floor avionics bay was discovered to be in poor condition. This structure is of composite sandwich construction with thin outer layers of aluminium and a thin honeycomb core. The panel is seriously delaminated in several sections. Neither of these complications are insurmountable or particularly rare. In fact, they are the rather typical kind of challenges that regularly crop up during the course of a major avionics project.
What else is going in?
- Auracle Engine Monitor
- We have installed the EGT and CHT probes on both engines.
- Removed fuel transducer in both engines, removed and installed oil temp sensor LH engine.
- EIU modules locations have proven to be a challenge due to lack of mounting space. We plan to mount the LH EIU in the battery/electrical compartment and mount in the outboard compartment of the engine nacelle for the RH due to the air conditioning equipment. We will then route the wire under the AC fan housing and then followed the existing bundle.
- Magnetometer Survey
- Before we install the Magnetometer for our heading direction of the G600 displays we have to ensure we do not get any interference from other electrical components.
- This involved nearly a day of testing potential mounting locations and turning on all the electrical devices and observing out test software to see the results.
- As is most typical, no location was clean. We ended up mounting it in the tail and having to re-locate the strobe light module
- New wiring
- We have started the nose baggage area wiring removals and carry throughs of the pressure vessel bulkhead from the cabin instrument panel.
- Design work
- Our engineering group has been working hard coming up with a suitable panel design and has forwarded this to the crew chief for feedback.
- The criteria here is multifold – we need to ensure it is safe, structurally sound, and aesthetically pleasing.
- Next week we will have a numerous panel designs to run by our customer for their approval.
- The preliminary wiring diagrams are done and waiting for final design approval.
All in all it’s going very well so far, no big surprises, and we are on schedule.
We said we would keep you updated so here is our second installment. Before we even got started on this airplane we needed to understand what existing snags were on this aircraft. The autopilot is being retained and had some known problems, so a thorough test flight was performed with our techs, test pilot, and our customers. Now we have a known starting point.
The Duke has been in the hangar for a week now and our team have been hard at it, working to remove the interior and panels for access, all of the old existing avionics equipment has been removed, and as well as most of the old wiring.
The instrumental panel has been removed, and as you can see, the wiring behind the panel is less than ideal! No worries though, some of that is coming out, and the remaining bundles will be checked out and properly secured. Our customer was experiencing electrical “gremlins” and asked us specifically to go through the remaining wiring, test and clean up.
Bench testing of the autopilot servos and servo mount clutches are underway at our repair shop upstairs. Our Design group has most of the CADD drawings (the avionics wiring interconnects) complete. As well we will remove and old wiring unused wiring left behind saving some precious weight.
We are now planning and prepping for the installation of the Auracle engine monitor boxes and associated wiring.
On a job of this magnitude, scheduling the order of the tasks is very important to minimize the downtime of the aircraft. Some components need to be repaired, others (like the backlit panels) need to go outside vendors so those need to be prioritized first. Over the next few weeks the airplane is going to look a lot worse before it starts coming together! Stay tuned for more info next week!
This week we’ve welcomed “The Duke” Beechcraft into our home-base hangar. Beech Duke aircraft are often referred to as the classic sports cars of aviation. Owners of this particular beautifully maintained aircraft wished for an avionics suit modernization to match it’s extremely capable airframe performance. Following a careful deliberation process the aircraft owners have selected one of the most impressive avionic modernization packages available to turn this aircraft into the most technologically advanced Duke on the planet.
To follow the upgrade process and see what we are up to, stay tuned for our weekly updates to witness history in the making – one week at a time.
So it begins!
Maxcraft Avionics is a leader in airplane and helicopter avionic system upgrades, including installation of everything from basic VHF Radios and flight instruments, all the way to sophisticated GPS, TCAS, EFIS, and glass cockpit systems. We have the largest avionics facility in Canada and over 20,000 unique part numbers in our inventory to repair your aircraft or upgrade your cockpit.