Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Now? Subtitle: Seeking Flight Permits

For the aircraft's first week in Libreville, we took up residence in an unused hangar.  The lease for this hangar is up for renewal, so we benefited from some ambiguity while we took out the additional reservoir tanks and did some odds and ends.

Speaking of odds and ends... the extra fuel tanks that were used had been connected via a "T" fitting into the fuel lines under that pilots' and co-pilots' floor board. 

It was not easy to reattach those fittings, but with the encouragement of Joe and Sam (who were playing basketball inside the hangar), we got 'er done.

This past week, I scheduled the inspection from the Gabonese civil aviation offices.  The aircraft was pulled out on to the ramp area.

The inspectors came to the aircraft a total of 3 times.  The last time we ran the engine and did operational checks of the flap system, avionics, and braking.

The aircraft, in this photo, is sitting in front of a hangar that our aviation support group would like to see get turned into a base of operations at the Libreville airport.  Since the hangar can only be accessed by smaller aircraft, it is a great fit.  Please pray for approval from the airport authority!

Until we find a home to hangar our aircraft, this is where we'll be parking- between two, defunct, "Dash 8" regional airliners.
By the end of the week, after 3 visits to the airplane and many, many documents handed in, civil aviation was still asking for more.  They had given me the impression that everything was fine on Friday morning, so, in the afternoon, I came to their offices around 3pm and literally stood for 2 hours in front of the receptionists desk, waiting for my document that gives me authorization to fly in Gabon for the next 3 to 6 months.

Finally, one of the inspectors emerged from his office and called me back.  He told be he still was not happy because our aircraft still had the same engine on it as it did when we had our forced landing in 2010.  I explained to him that the loss of power that led to that event was not a problem that originated in the engine, rather, it was the fuel system.  I reminded him that the engine has powered our aircraft through the "return to service" flights in the US as well as the 46 hours of flight that brought it from the US, over the Atlantic Ocean, to Gabon.

So, he asked that I create a document outlining these things, and bring it by on Saturday- he assured that he would be working.  So, frustrated, I returned home to try and enjoy my last evening with Alace and the kids before they set off to Cameroon to get back to the spring semester of school.  Saturday afternoon, I dropped off the document they wanted.  They assured me that my flight authorization is all written up and ready to go.  I told them that I will need this as soon as their office opens on Monday because our first flight to Bongolo Hospital is set for that morning.

Please pray with me that this document will, indeed, be ready and that our 10am departure from Libreville to Bongolo can happen.

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