WASSI Update December 2021
I had intended for this update to be written before Christmas but, you know how it is, the crazy time overtook my best intentions. Still better late than never.
Firstly, Merry Christmas to you and yours. I sincerely hope that you can all have a safe and restful break.
Secondly, I would like to repeat how valuable and appreciated your regular donations are. All large rivers begin from the multitude of small tributaries the feed into them.
In the last month or two, there has been an immense amount of work going on. I will cover the detail by referring to progress on each of our fleet and finish with detail of our fund raising efforts and requirements.
FML continues to provide sterling service to Wellington Aero Club and to generate much needed income. However, we have still needed to spend a reasonable amount on maintenance issues that come up as a result of the fact that FML is a fairly high time airframe.
The fuselage, wings and control surfaces have now been painted, 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, which came in with the Tomahawk from LA (N24634/NJT), is with Southair in Dunedin for overhaul. We have been advised that most parts have been received and therefore our engine is “front of the cue” for completion. We have asked for it to be given as much priority as the current environment allows.
A completed rewire was required, which is now pretty much completed, and the avionics fit has been selected and paid for. However, supply delays mean we aren’t expecting completion until February.
While I have not yet had time to do a comprehensive analysis of exactly what has been spent and where, MUM is costing us much more than initially anticipated. The reasons for this include the need for a complete replacement the undercarriage and axles, replacement of many “small” but not inexpensive parts, and the need for a complete electrical rewire. This has been a bit of a drag on our progress and at times put us under some financial pressure.
The import CofA is now completed and the NZ registration (ZK-NJT) had been issued. The wings have been stripped for repaint and, due to the condition of the existing paint, the fuselage will also be completely stripped. Painting is planned for February.
The avionics fit has been selected (matching MUM’s) and paid for, but the same supply delays mean we aren’t expecting completion until February.
The engine for NJT is one of the two ordered direct from Lycoming in Pennsylvania. This was paid for and released from their factory on the 20th of December. Again, thanks to the hugely valuable assistance of Dave Morgan, Air NZ are air freighting both engines from LA to Auckland and are air freighting the two return engine cores to LA in the next week or so.
While I am hesitant to put dates on it, I am hopeful we will receive the new engines before the end of January.
JHF has been on lease to the Wellington Aero Club for a couple of months but we always understood that this may not be a long term arrangement. They have advised us that they have purchased their third Tomahawk and will be terminating their lease of JHF in late January.
We are appreciative of their assistance in running in JHF’s new engine and for using it for as much as they have. A new lease arrangement has not yet been finalised, but a couple of options are being explored.
We do not expect to be in a position to have it painted in the WASSI scheme until some time in the new year.
The engine for MAJ is the second of the two ordered direct from Lycoming in Pennsylvania. This was paid for and released from their factory on the 20th of December. Again, I am hopeful we will receive these two new engines before the end of January.
The plan is to complete preparation work forward of the firewall, such as crack testing and painting of the engine mount, repair of the baffling and replacement of engine control cables before the engine arrives. We will then fit the new engine and complete any other maintenance action required to return MAJ to airworthy condition as soon as possible. Our intent is then to fly MAJ over to Omaka for a complete paint strip and repaint in the WASSI scheme. By combining the stripping of NJT’s fuselage with the stripping of all of MAJ (using the AquaMax water blast process), we hope to make a significant cost saving.
Finance allowing, other aspects, such as the avionics fit out and internal refurbishment may also be able to be undertaken around the same time.
Once this is complete, we will organise the running in process and organise a suitable lease arrangement for the aircraft.
The WASSI continues to receive regular contributions from a large and growing number of members, and as mentioned in the intro, the combined and regular effect is invaluable, so a very heartfelt thank you to you all.
In the last few months we have also been fortunate to receive another (very) significant contribution from a local benefactor, which allowed us to complete the payment for the engines from Lycoming, and be in a position to progress (if not complete) the refurbishment of MAJ.
Another application for funding assistance is being prepared to assist with the cost of painting airframes, however this is by no means assured and at best will take some time to come through.
We are also confident of receiving two sizeable donations early in the new year, discussion for these have been ongoing for a little while. That said, due to the continuing costs required to progress MUM we are still working very hard with our fundraising efforts and our cashflow forecasts still show a shortfall of about $50,000. Naturally, we would welcome your ideas, contacts and support.
I would like to end with a personal thank you to all of you who make regular contributions. Large or small, these are the backbone of our society.
My plans/hopes for next year lean toward a period of consolidation. We are working to complete the restoration of all of our aircraft, either in the short term or progressively as funding allows. We are also focused on organising suitable lease arrangements for all of our aircraft, so that they can be usefully employed to utilise engine hours and calendar time and to generate funds for reinvestment in our fleet.
I do not anticipate additional aircraft purchase in 2022, but you never know.
Take very good care of yourselves and your loved ones and may the new year go just as well as possible for you.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as I can at some stage during the year.