Contributed by Doug Donahue, Airframe Service Sales Rep.
This picture shows the overheating condition of the heater ribbon on a water line located behind the aft galley on a late model Gulfstream GIV. Note the sooting on the wire bundle above the overheat area.
Earlier this year, achieving the GIV water line ribbon heater upgrades mandated in Aircraft Service Change (ASC) 469 presented a challenge. Ribbon heater parts simply weren’t available to achieve the required upgrade and sparse scheduling opportunities made it difficult for operators to save downtime by combining it with scheduled maintenance events.
With the deadline pushed back through the end of 2012, operators are more able to choose their downtimes of choice and even reduce costs… if they schedule by next summer.
I strongly recommend that operators seek firm-fixed labor pricing for ribbon heater upgrade quotes, as service centers can never be entirely sure how many ribbon heaters need to be replaced. A GIV or V could have four to 22 heaters installed on an aircraft, but even with blueprints no one will know for certain until the interior is removed, especially on older GIVs.
A firm-fixed price will help avoid additional labor charges if there are more ribbon heaters onboard than expected. Parts costs normally aren’t offered at a firm-fixed price for the same reason.
Even though the extension for the water line ribbon heater upgrade has relaxed the current service schedule, we could face a similar bottleneck next year if the estimated remaining 30% aren’t scheduled by the end of next summer.
Ideally, ribbon heater upgrades are scheduled with a 96 month inspection, which saves about 200 to 300 hours of downtime for the removal and reinstallation of the interior galley(s), cabin and lavatory. Other events that save downtime include phone systems, in-flight Wi-Fi and interior modifications, all of which involve interior removals.
Duncan Aviation has completed 18 water line ribbon heater upgrades for GIV and GV aircraft over the past year, and our full-service facilities offer complete interior modification capabilities. To schedule a ribbon heater upgrade, please contact a member of the Gulfstream Airframe Service Sales Team.
Doug Donahue serves as an Airframe Service Sales Rep. at Duncan Aviation’s Battle Creek, Mich. (MI) facility, specializing in Gulfstream, Embraer, Astra and Westwind airframes. He began working in aviation in 1993.