Jet Involved in Brazil Midair Finally on U.S. Soil

 - November 19, 2010, 3:09 AM
The Embraer Legacy 600 involved in the midair with a Gol Transportes Aéreos Boeing 737 on Sept. 29, 2006, will arrive today at Cleveland (Ohio) Hopkins International Airport after a ferry flight from Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus, Brazil. (See current FlightAware flight track.) 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. Before arriving in Cleveland today, the Legacy flew from Manaus to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., yesterday, landing on U.S. soil at 7:23 p.m. Last month, it was flown from the military airbase in Cachimbo, where the twinjet made an emergency landing after the midair, to Manaus in northern Brazil.

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 as 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.

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 wasalso free of corrosion. “We had a team of 10 people,” he said, “and we spent three weeks doing testing and analyzing all the systems to make sure it was a safe airplane to put back in the air.”

After arriving in Cleveland later this morning, 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. It's one of the most challenging we've done.”

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.”

As a Legacy service center, Constant Aviation does about 70 percent of Legacy scheduled maintenance in the U.S., according to Maiden, and 99 percent of 48-month inspections for U.S.-registered Legacys. “We are the resident expert in that field,” he said. “We're the only MRO ever to replace a nose and wing on a Legacy or Embraer 135. That drove the insurance company to reach out to us. We jumped at the opportunity to evaluate it and work to bring this airplane back to the U.S.”