Within New Zealand, the Oceania Aviation brand is fairly well known in aviation circles but over recent years we have seen growing interest from overseas. This has seen many of our team spend lengthy periods of time completing various offshore projects. The first project with Trade Dynamics in Pakistan that began in 2015 has now come to its conclusion, this was the Schweizer 269C Refurbishment Programme for the Pakistan Army.
Back in 2014, after an introduction between Don McCracken, Mr Muhamad Younas and Mr Salman Younas a relationship was formed between Oceania Aviation and Trade Dynamics, a Pakistan-based company supporting commercial Aviation and some government tenders.
The Pakistan Army flight training school was requesting support in refurbishing a number of its light training helicopters. Our offshore Projects Manager, Glenn Rawnsley, visited the training base in August of that year to inspect and quote on the work needed to get these aircraft back in the air. After a successful engagement agreement, work began in November of 2015 with our team spending four weeks in Pakistan disassembling five of their aircraft.
Accompanying Glenn on their first-ever trip to Pakistan was our Avionics Manager Philip Hutchings, our Helicopter Components Supervisor Duncan Moxon, and Licensed Engineer Ryan Daum. After disassembly, our team packed and shipped components back to our facilities in New Zealand for the overhaul and repairs to be completed. These included the Main & Tail Gearboxes, Rotor Blades, Power Train Assembly and Main Rotor Head Assembly, all completed by our in-house Helicopter Components team based in Auckland. The aircraft avionics were also removed for exchange and repair.
For quality purposes, the Pakistan Army asked for the mainframes to be checked for dimensional tolerance. This was carried out by digitally scanning the dimensional reference points for compliance using a Farad arm scanner.
As part of the contract, 12 Pakistani engineers visited Oceania Aviation New Zealand to complete theoretical and hands-on training. This training included piston engine technical information with our team in Hamilton and component training in Auckland, aimed to assist these engineers by leveraging our long-term overhaul experience with the intent to do more in-house work and reduce their outsourcing requirements.
Our original team returned in May of 2016 for what ended up being a seven-week stint to reassemble the initial five aircraft, now with newly overhauled and repaired components and avionics. This was followed by another three weeks to complete flight testing. The lengths of these trips were significantly extended due to reasons not often faced here in New Zealand such as severe weather, daily power outages, and most significantly the adherence to the Muslim practices of the prayer and fasting observed during the month of Ramadan.
The Pakistan Air Traffic Control also have strict regulations around weather, with the slightest hint of bad weather resulting in the canceling of test flights.
In November of 2016 Airborne Systems Manager, Russell Goulden joined Glenn in holding a two-week training course in Pakistan on specific maintenance and technical aspects of the 269 aircraft.
The following year a further 5 aircraft were refurbished with much greater input from the Pakistan Army technicians. A reassembly trip followed in May 2017, where our team of four (Ross MacKenzie taking Duncan Moxons place) traveled to Islamabad to assist with the project. After the first trip to Pakistan, Glenn decided the best solution for team efficiency was to ship over a container that would both act as an office and as a means to get the required tooling to the base.
“The container made a huge impact on our work. We had all the tooling needed to get the job done and most importantly, “ Glenn jokes, “we had an air-conditioned office. Working in 40-degree temperatures takes a toll and we simply aren’t used to working in that kind of environment.”
At times conditions were challenging for the kiwi team, with the high temperatures, occasional illness and adapting to cultural differences but in all regards, the staff and army personnel of both Trade Dynamics and the Rawalpindi base were warm, welcoming and wonderful hosts.
Various members of our Oceania Aviation team complete a number of projects in different parts of the world throughout the year. We have the expertise, manpower, and experience in offshore projects, talk to us about how we could help.
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