Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Fine, here's an aviation-related post as well. I actually watched this happen today. It was foggy at our departure airport and this Citation III was hooked up to a ground power unit (GPU, essentially a portable gas-powered generator to provide electricity to the plane when the engines aren't running). The Captain was relatively fresh on the plane and as a result he wasn't authorized to take off in the low visibility. I am, so I asked the Captain if we could steal the GPU so I could push some electrons through our plane and get her all set up before departure. He said sure, so I asked a ramp guy to drive it over to our plane - the GPU is pulled by an aircraft tug. I walked over to our plane and turned around to see the ramp guy pull the tug away, but without actually disconnecting the power cable (connects the GPU to the plane) from the Citation III. The cable is really thick and heavy btw. The cable pulled taut, then tore out from the belly of the plane, whipped through the air and took a chunk out of the flap. They are gonna have to replace the entire flap, and that's about a 50,000 dollar repair. No idea if there is any internal damage to the plane where the GPU receptacle was yanked from the belly, but clearly there's something amiss there too. The ramp guy shrugged and said "Guess I'm going home early today". Turns out that the ramp people at this airport get 3 'ramp rashes' per year before their jobs are in jeopardy. PS: If you look closely in the close-up pic, you can see the carbon fiber used in the flap. When I went to the Captain to offer my condolences, he was actually pretty okay with it - "We had a nightmare 14-hour day planned today, and now I get to go home instead!". Stuff happens, it's just a little more spectacular (and costly) when it happens to a corporate jet.