After my first trip to visit the Wuhan Hangda Aero Science & Technology Development Company (Hangda) in China, I returned this time bringing the "boss", Peter Hately, with me to complete the 60-month inspections on the dynamic components of a Bell 407 helicopter.
We set off on our 11-hour flight to Hong Kong at midnight on the 21st of September. In the midst of the ruptured Northland fuel pipeline crisis, we encountered our first delay with a 2-hour stopover in the west island at Brisbane for refuel. Resuming our trip at 5 am we lifted off to Hong Kong and finally got the chance to sleep after being awake for more than 22 hours. Due to the aforementioned delay, the next leg of our trip from Hong Kong to the mainland was delayed another four hours from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, meaning we didn't arrive at our final destination of Wuhan until 3:30 pm. A long trip.
Our contact from Hangda met us at the airport, took us to the hotel to quickly drop off of our bags and then off to the Hangda complex to familiarise the new boy Pete with the surroundings. It's a large complex, so not a simple 5-minute tour.
Work began on Saturday 23rd September as we got started on the project we had flown all the way to China to do. The 60-month inspection of the dynamic components of a Bell 407 that included the main transmission, tail rotor transmission, main rotor mast & freewheel assembly.
We were assisted by two local engineers, as well as the chief engineer of the company who owned the fleet of Bell aircraft.
Peter spent the first day on the main transmission while I worked on the freewheel.
Sunday, not being a work day, was spent as tourists. We were shown around the hotspots of Wuhan, visited the Yellow Crane tower (a second time for me) and we visited the local museum.
On Monday we traveled to Hangda's other facility in Anlu. The extra one and a half hours drive needed as the Bell 407 mast assembly could not fit into the Wuhan facility. Here we had thought the Wuhan complex was large. Well, the Anlu complex is bigger still, with the capacity to overhaul landing gear of all large airplanes. Everything is big and very impressive!
We spent the day in Anlu completing the mast inspections, returning to Wuhan later that evening.
Our last day in Wuhan consisted of tail rotor gearbox inspection and finalizing all the paperwork and certification.
The evenings of our time in China consisted of dinners out with the guys from Hangda and Mr Liu, but our last night involved a little more rice wine and the chance to exchange international drinking games. Let's just say it was tough getting the 5:30 am wake up call to catch our 8 am flight to Shanghai.
It was a great experience with the team from Wuhan, with lots of sign language on offer, the odd conversation via smartphone translator, rice wine, interesting food choices (pigs knuckles and preserved eggs to name a few) and the start of a good relationship for future work with the Wuhan Hangda Aero Science & Technology Development Company.