January 2023 update
The following is an edited excerpt of the Chairman’s report presented at the 2023 Annual General Meeting. The full report can be found at the following link:
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Despite the challenges of 2021 and 2022, the WASSI continues to grow towards our objectives. In fact, in many ways, we have had another great year and now the WASSI fleet has grown to five aircraft, of which four are currently airworthy.
Two of the aircraft (JHF and MAJ) are yet to be finished it the WASSI livery, and both also require completion of the avionics upgrade.
It is important to remind ourselves of the goal of WASSI; simply, we need to have our students in the safest aircraft we reasonably can.
The WASSI funds come from three primary sources, charitable support organisation, such as Lion Foundation, Pub Charity and The Perry Foundation; from a few large benefactors; and from member contributions. Additionally the aircraft we currently have on lease are starting to bring in income.
While organisations such as Lion Foundation and Pub Charity, who have both provided very significant financial assistance in the past, have been put under pressure in the last three years as a result of reduced income activity during the pandemic, they remained strongly supportive of WASSI over the last year.
Continued regular contributions by the members of WASSI have allowed the society to progress towards its goals. It has enabled us to keep the first additions to the WASSI fleet at a sustained high standard of fit out and state of repair, while also refurbishing the new additions.
The Society did have a setback during the year when one of the fleet sustained damage while on lease, and was therefore out of the air for a protracted time, but with diligent work by our maintenance provider it has now returned to flying status.
The fifth aircraft in the fleet is currently our only Cessna 152 model (MUM). Getting this aircraft back in the air has been a far harder task than initially envisaged, but the end is clearly in sight. Without going into the specifics details of what is required to complete MUM’s restoration, it is hoped to have the project completed by April. There is still a shortfall of approximately $40,000 to get it to the required WASSI standard, and so we are still actively looking at financial support for the completion.
The plan for 2023 is to repay outstanding loans, to raise money for MUM’s completion, then to consolidate.
Over time we will raise money for NJT’s issue rectification, for the completion of JHF’s and MAJ’s avionics and to complete JHF’s and MAJ’s repainting.
We need a further $75,000 or so to get JHF; MAJ & NJT up to WASSI final standard. This can be achieved slowly from our regular donations; Pub Charity grants and lease income in 2023. We will need about $8,000 per month to achieve this.
Finding Suitable Aircraft
The availability of suitable aircraft for WASSI to invest in is totally unpredictable. However, one thing that has become clear is that airworthy, relatively low hour aircraft are a better investment for us, than aircraft requiring total rebuilds, no matter how little we pay for them.
It is not expected tha WASSI will be in a position to invest in any more aircraft in 2023. In order to move toward a balance of PA38’s and C152’s it is anticipated that the next aircraft purchased should be Cessnas.
At the beginning of 2022, MAJ was fitted with one of the two engines ordered direct from Lycoming in Pennsylvania. These were ordered and paid for as “Overhauled” engines however, due to the very good relationship ARGUS Aviation at Motueka has with Lycoming, these two engines were constructed and delivered as zero time “Factory Rebuilt” engines. These engines are like new. They have a zero time since new and a zero time since major overhaul. This is a significant bonus.
Unfortunately, due to a communications breakdown, both engines as delivered were spec’ed for Cessnas and required the retrofitting of fuel pump drives, at an unbudgeted additional cost of $3,310 per engine, and at a delay of three months.
In September significant effort was put into running-in MAJ’s engine properly.
In October MAJ had its initial avionics upgrade of a Garmin GTX335W ADS/B Out and In Transponder and a Garmin Aero 660 VFR GPS Navigator display.
While MAJ clearly requires a complete paint strip and repaint in the WASSI scheme, both time and financial constraints did not allow us to achieve this in 2022. We hope to be able to complete MAJ’s repaint and other restoration aspects, such as the remaining avionics upgrade and internal refurbishment in the later part of 2023.
MAJ is now being leased by Mid-Canterbury Aeroclub.
In the calendar year 2022, $45,501 was invested in MAJ. Bringing the total investment to date in this aircraft to $199,458.
In September 2021, JHF was leased to Wellington Aeroclub. However, they had indicated that they were looking to purchase a third PA38 and that the lease may not be long term. In January 2022, Wellington relinquished its lease of JHF and the aircraft was returned to Motueka.
In early April, JHF was leased to Nelson Aeroclub, however in early May one of their members drove the aircraft straight at the lip of the sealed taxiway and the prop struck the ground at relatively high power.
Fortunately, the insurance accepted our claim, and within a fortnight of acceptance, Jay McIntyre came over to Nelson to complete the removal of the (very low hour) engine, which was sent to South Air in Dunedin for the mandatory bulk strip and inspection. The prop was sent to Airbus in Blenheim for its inspection. Fortunately, the prop could be repaired but is apparently on limits.
In order to get JHF airworthy and back under our control, Jay fitted the second of the two rebuilt engines from Lycoming and we test flew JHF that same weekend, landing back at Motueka. Frankly, I could have done without this setback.
In late July Hawkes Bay and East Coast Aeroclub began leasing JHF.
In November JHF had its initial avionics upgrade of a Garmin GTX335W ADS/B Out and In Transponder and a Garmin Aero 660 VFR GPS Navigator display.
In the calendar year 2022, $25,101 was invested in JHF. Bringing the total investment to date in this aircraft to $136,218.
Progressively throughout 2022 the restoration of NJT continued, including a complete paint strip and repaint in the WASSI scheme.
In September NJT completed its avionics upgrade of two Garmin G5s; a Garmin GTX335W ADS/B Out and In Transponder; a Garmin Aero 660 VFR GPS Navigator display; and a Garmin radio.
The initial plan had been for NJT to be fitted with is one of the two engines ordered direct from Lycoming. However, the prop strike to JHF led to a replan and in November/December NJT was fitted with the engine which was bulk stripped, inspected and repaired by South Air in Dunedin.
As this process required the replacement of the rings and tappets, the engine required being run-in again and in December significant effort was put into completing the required hours to complete this before the Walsh. During this process a small number of issues were identified that will require rectification early in 2023.
NJT was hangared at Motueka until the Walsh and will be leased at some time in 2023.
In the calendar year 2022, $78,061 was invested in NJT. Bringing the total investment to date in this aircraft to $211,154.
The fuselage, wings and control surfaces were painted late 2021, although we have not completed final assembly yet, as this would increase its space requirements and thereby increase the risk of hangar rash.
The engine for MUM came from NJT, and was reconditioned by South Air in Dunedin. This was completed in April 2022, mounted to the airframe, but has not yet been run.
The restoration of MUM continued throughout 2022. This included a complete re-wire, repair to the instrument panel and the upgrading of the avionics to include two Garmin G5s; a Garmin GTX335W ADS/B Out and In Transponder; a Garmin Aero 660 VFR GPS Navigator display; and a Garmin radio.
The undercarriage legs, fairings, brake discs and wheels all required replacement.
Unfortunately, we ran out of time (and money) in 2022 to complete MUM in time for it to be used at the Walsh in 2023. However, we have been approached by an excellent lease prospect and hope be able to complete MUM and have it available for lease in the first quarter 2023. However this will be subject to raising sufficient funds.
In the calendar year 2022, $57,356 was invested in MUM. Bringing the total investment to date in this aircraft to $293,955.
The importance of this undertaking to securing the future of Walsh is clear, and to ensure we achieve our goals it will take many years of commitment. Part of this process is succession planning. I would ask that you give some thought to whether you may be able to contribute in some capacity in the future.