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We received Wasp XT420 back from Weald Aviation Services Ltd in Essex early last month, following completion of a maintenance package.  It has been great for both pilots and engineers to engage in real life aviation operations, enabled by the recent relaxations in CAA’s Covid-19 precautions and the Wasp celebrated the 50th birthday of associate aircraft the Sea King XV666 ‘Damian’.

Navy Wings supported by the Babcock engineering team, have otherwise been making the most of the Covid-19 enforced down-time by preparing the aircraft for next year’s flying season. The focus over the last week or so has been on removing Bristol Pegasus P38804 from its host aircraft, Swordfish W5856, prior to the engine’s Repair and Overhaul (R&O).  It’s always a delicate operation to remove an engine due to the mass of metal involved – it weighs in at just over half a tonne!  Plus the maintenance team have to avoid hitting some delicate components, without much room for manoeuvre, and whilst remaining 2 metres apart.

The engine was removed without incident, and dispatched to Weald where it will be stripped for assessment in the first instance.  Its destination for R&O will be decided once all the components have been inspected and we have a clear idea of the work required. Hopefully W5856 won’t be without her engine for long because we’re expecting another newly overhauled engine to be delivered by Deltair in Hampshire later this month.

We’ve also been doing various other jobs to prepare the aircraft for next year’s flying season.  Most notably, Chipmunk WK608 is in isolation in Hangar 17 whilst X-ray Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) is undertaken of her main undercarriage mountings.
Ian Bisset, our new Continuing Airworthiness Manager, has also been busy with the raft of paperwork required to migrate the former MAA-regulated Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) aircraft across to CAA permits to fly.  No small job!