If you had told anyone just six months ago that 75% of the world’s passenger aircraft would be parked or stored by mid-year, no one would have believed it. However, now that we have become accustomed to that “new-normal”, it has become more important than ever to keep a tight rein on parking and storage costs until our industry recovers.
Using a membrane or film to seal up the exhaust of an engine is a procedure that mechanics will be well used to since the pandemic stuck, as it is mandated by engine manufacturers for aircraft which are in parking or storage mode.
It can take two mechanics upwards of 90 minutes to seal off the exhaust area of an engine using polythene and packing tape, and no small amount of tailoring skill with a scissors. Considering that these blanks have to be removed for engine run ups and replaced as often as every two weeks, this adds up to a lot of costly man hours. Add to that the cost of all of those packaging materials which need to be sent to landfill after each run-up.
Making that preservation task easier, while keeping costs down was the design intent behind the FLASHPLUG - a simple preservation kit designed and manufactured by JB Roche, Ireland.
Developed in conjunction with Airbus, the complete preservation package measures a tidy 30” x 19” x 3” and weighs in at a mere 700 grams. Small and light enough to remain on the aircraft as part of a fly-away kit, it comes complete with sufficient tape to re-fit each cover three times. Additional tape is available as required.
The tape is a specially developed “no-residue” formulation which the manufacturers say is “designed to be strong enough to hold everything in place, even in storm force weather, but it may be released so that there is no risk of peeling paintwork on removal”.
According to the product specifications it takes a mechanic just under 10 minutes to seal off each engine. By our calculations that represents a time saving of 90% over conventional blanks
The manufactures are hopeful that the FLASHPLUG concept will become widely adopted by operators. It certainly doesn’t hurt their case that SATAIR are marketing the FLASHPLUG range as a validated Airbus solution.
Those all too familiar images of engines taped up with packaging tape and polyethene should become a thing of the past if the FLASHPLUG concept becomes widely adopted by operators.
Currently the CFM56/5B FLASHPLUG kit has been fully approved by Airbus. Validation and approval for LEAP 1A engines and PW1100G-JM engine types is due to follow shortly.