PJ Helicopters, the first operator to install and fly with a new Donaldson dry media Inlet Barrier Filter (IBF), is rapidly approaching 100 hours of flight operation using the new filter.
Developed and produced by Donaldson Aerospace & Defense, a division of Donaldson Company, Inc. (NYSE: DCI), the new filter is being flown on one of PJ Helicopters’ Bell 407 aircraft from its Red Bluff facility about 130 miles north of Sacramento, California.
The filter for the B407, certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2016, uses Donaldson’s next-generation non-woven dry media with proprietary nanofiber technology. The technology is key to the filter’s superior capacity to hold dust and directly contributes to reductions in maintenance requirements.
Donaldson dry and oiled media IBFs will be on display March 7-9 in Dallas, in Exhibit 10537 at HAI HELI-EXPO 2017.
Dave McCammon, director of maintenance operations at PJ Helicopters, said the aircraft hasn’t shown any signs of power degradation or increases in engine temperatures in flight, both good signs for the Donaldson dry media filter. “Our real test will come this summer during our peak operating season when temperatures will be hotter and conditions will be a lot drier,” he said.
PJ is a long-time Donaldson customer and successfully flies with Donaldson’s oiled media IBFs. The company operates a fleet of 30 helicopters, including 19 Bell and 5 MD Helicopters aircraft, each equipped with Donaldson IBFs. The PJ fleet performs a wide range of service missions for customers, including firefighting and power-line construction and maintenance.
Before the Donaldson dry media IBF was certified, PJ began operating with a competitive dry media solution, because dry media is typically considered easier to clean. They operated two B407s in a side-by-side evaluation – one with a competitor’s dry filter and one with a Donaldson oiled filter – during a busy firefighting season. After the season, McCammon said PJ decided against future operations with the competitive dry filter because it was three times more difficult to clean and made the engine fly hotter, a problem that causes engine wear.
“We were spending more time cleaning the dry filter than the Donaldson oiled filter and the dry media filter still wasn’t getting clean,” said McCammon. “And we couldn’t find a solution to the higher temperatures.”
So, when Donaldson offered PJ its new dry filter, the company came on board quickly.
“It’s easier and faster to clean. You just rinse and you’re done,” said McCammon. “That’s a critical time-saver, especially when you’re performing field maintenance. In the end, we were really looking for a filter that is reasonably economic to operate – and that led us to Donaldson.”
McCammon said his next goal is to compare the Donaldson oiled media B407 filter with a dry filter-equipped B407 next summer during firefighting season.
“Another round will give us clarity on how to proceed,” he said. “If the dry media performs as expected, we definitely will be buying more dry media filters from Donaldson.”