Emergency Halon Recovery on Aircraft
Wednesday, March 1, 2017, a maiden voyage of an international cargo flight for an A-Gas customer landed in Memphis, TN with a Halon fire suppression system problem. The system had released Halon into a manifold. At that point it needed to be either vented or recovered. Venting would harm the environment and initiate a 20 day mandatory downtime and overhaul procedure.
Our Customer spent several days escalating the problem and seeking a solution. On Sunday, March 12, 2017, a solution was found through A-Gas / Rapid Recovery.
Tim Amburgey, Vice President of the A-Gas Americas Fire Protection division, discussed the opportunity with Rich Dykstra of Rapid Recovery and relayed the information that was given to him regarding the situation. After speaking with Tim, the offer to the customer was made. Rapid Recovery would attempt to recover Halon for the first time using El Machino, the organizations proprietary, high speed, on-site recovery system.
Monday morning March 6th began with a series of phone calls between Tim, Anthony Nash (Rapid Recovery’s on-site specialist assigned to the project) and the customer to determine the cost to deploy our emergency teams to Memphis, Tennessee to complete the recovery. The first item to handle was cost of doing the job. Within 17 minutes the customer had a formal written proposal detailing what it would take for Rapid Recovery to recover the halon. Approval came quickly and the logistics began to fall into place. Who is going to go? Where are we getting equipment from? What's our time frame? All questions that needed answers quickly.
It was determined that the Nashville based Rapid Recovery franchise owner, Bray Melson, would make the 214 mile journey to bring equipment and assist with the recovery, while Anthony Nash and Bubba Martinez, two members of the FAST team (Field Advisory Support Technicians), flew to Memphis to meet the onsite engineers and assess the situation. The customer quickly determined that the delay caused by standard commercial air travel was too high and too costly. Instead, the customer immediately sent a private corporate jet to bring Bubba and Anthony to Memphis to expedite the start of the project.
After a short flight, the FAST team arrived at Memphis International Airport, where the cargo plane was staged to begin the recovery process. Bray Melson and one of his new technicians, Ryan Corn, met Anthony and Bubba at the airport shortly after their plane arrived. All hands were on deck to fix the customer’s problem. Custom fittings were required to connect El Machino to the suppression equipment and a machine shop was on standby to build whatever parts and fittings were needed. Within a few short hours, the emergency recovery of 3 halon spheres began. Six hours and 209 lbs. of Halon later, the recovery was complete.
During the post recovery debrief, the onsite mechanics expressed how thoroughly impressed and grateful they were to have a high caliber team to assist them with their dilemma. The customer and all involved were notably impressed with our A-Gas Rapid Recovery attitude of "Yes we can, how high." Once again the mantra "Rapid, it's in the name" rings true.
More, Better, Faster, Safer! Go Team Go!
- The plane had been grounded since Wednesday evening of the prior week.
- Estimated customer cost of $800,000 per down day for the cargo plane ($556 USD / Min).
- The Rapid FAST team deployed on a privately chartered, customer owned corporate Learjet 60.
- All emergency response Rapid Recovery team members had been awake and "on" for more than 27 hours straight.