What do you do with old planes? Repurpose them for training of course!
SIL Papua New Guinea* donated a Cessna 206 to JAARS in 2010. The plane had over 20,000 hours of flight time, and the organization was phasing out its Cessna 206s and purchasing Kodiaks. They shipped it back to Waxhaw for the maintenance training department to use.
“We’ve loved having the plane here. It’s been a useful tool,” David Kooistra, a maintenance instructor at JAARS, says. However, its turbocharged engine was not the type that most of our field partners use. So its usefulness as a maintenance trainer was limited. “We have been using it for training,” David explains, “but it wasn’t as current as what we wanted.”
Many of our field partners are switching to the newer IO550N Continental engine, which is quite a bit different than the 206’s engine. David and the other maintenance instructors want to train and equip their students to maintain the kind of equipment they’ll use in the field. Thus, it was time to acquire a new engine.
The maintenance training team wrote one of the main aircraft engine manufacturers JAARS has a good relationship with, expressing their need. The company saw value in what JAARS does—training pilot-mechanics to support the transportation needs of Bible translators and wanted to help. This company donated a new, runnable engine that for warranty reasons had to be returned to them. Praise God for his provision!
The engine came disassembled, so David and some other mechanics have been assembling and installing it into the Cessna trainer for the last few months.
Significant donations have also been made by Aim Air, Summit Aviation and Electronics International to make this project possible. Summit has donated much of the components required to physically install the new engine on the Cessna 206 airframe. Electronics International donated a complete engine monitoring system which will allow all our engine instrumentation equipment to match our live aircraft instead of using old instrumentation from the early 80’s.
“When mechanics come, they usually have quite a bit of experience in performing inspections, but not necessarily a lot of experience troubleshooting and making repairs,” David explains. But, as David knows from his time serving overseas, mechanics must solve many types of issues. So he and the other instructors want to train the students in the upcoming Pre-Field Orientation Course to troubleshoot problems, assess what’s wrong, and determine how to fix it.
The maintenance team tries to avoid training on aircraft that fly. They don’t want to accidentally mess up the usable aircraft. “But [this new engine] will let me actually put problems into the engine, and then have our maintenance specialists troubleshoot and repair all kinds of creative issues—all on their own on a plane that’s not going to fly.”
According to David, the 206 with its new engine “is a useful tool that should have huge training value and be a great training asset.” The maintenance team is already seeing some fruit of that value as Cesar Souza, a pilot-mechanic from Asas de Socorro who plans to fly for AIM AIR, receives training here at JAARS.
As David said, “We’re all partnering together to do God’s work.”