Brazil midair Legacy finally returns to U.S.

 - December 1, 2010, 5:58 AM

The Embraer Legacy 600 involved in the midair with a Gol Transportes Aéreos Boeing 737 on Sept. 29, 2006, arrived at Cleveland (Ohio) Hopkins International Airport on November 19 after a ferry flight from Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus, Brazil. The Legacy 600–now registered as N965LL–was recovered by a mobile repair team from Cleveland-based Constant Aviation, which was hired by the new owners of the Legacy to recover and repair the jet.

The business jet had originally been purchased by charter/management firm ExcelAire of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and was on its delivery flight from the Embraer factory in São José dos Campos when the collision occurred. According to Constant Aviation president Stephen Maiden, the insurance company declared the Legacy a write-off and sold the jet as-is to the new owner, whom Constant would not identify. FAA records list the new owner as Cloudscape of Wilmington, Del.

In early 2007, a team from Constant Aviation visited Brazil to examine the Legacy on behalf of the insurance provider, along with personnel from Embraer, and they conducted an initial analysis of the airplane. Later, another visit was made to conduct alignment checks of the airframe and determine whether it could fly again, Maiden said. The Legacy had a damaged left elevator and the left wing was missing its winglet. “Some structural repairs had to be done to get it in a position to where we could fly it,” Maiden said, “even on a ferry permit.” This included replacing the horizontal stabilizer before the Legacy left the airbase.

More Repairs Needed

The humid jungle environment in Brazil was not kind to the airplane, which sat outside for a year-and-a-half after the accident, and all of its Honeywell avionics displays had to be replaced, he said. The fuel tanks were clean and the Rolls-Royce AE3007 engines had been preserved–although they hadn’t been run, they were in good shape. “We did extensive boroscoping and testing to verify the validity of the engines,” he said. The airframe was also free of corrosion.

Now back in the U.S., the Legacy will get a new wing and a heavy (48-month) inspection. The owner will have to decide whether to buy a new wing or a used serviceable wing, Maiden said. The engines will be sent to a Rolls-Royce-authorized service center for evaluation and any necessary repairs. “We’ll inspect and repair all the systems,” he said, “and do a full evaluation of the interior. The airplane is relatively new, with only 20 flight hours. [We may] refurbish the interior.”

For Constant Aviation, which recovers airplanes from all over the world, the Legacy job was one of the company’s most difficult, Maiden said. “With an airplane that was this notable, it created a lot of other issues legally, which [caused] a timing issue and restrictions on how we were going to work to get the airplane out of Brazil.”

Maiden expects the Constant Aviation team to finish the repairs and refurbishment of the Legacy in about 90 days. “We do this type of work all the time,” he said.
“Airplanes are damaged and repaired. The owner is ­buying a brand-new Legacy for a portion of the cost, as long as it is successfully recovered and repaired. The intent is to have an airworthy airplane in like-new status.”