another Autoflight gearbox failure - this time after 34 hrs

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BBerson

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I hesitate to ask any more questions.... but very curious about "was started under full power in a crowded hangar".
On purpose or some sort of accident? Vandalism? Revenge?
 

wsimpso1

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There was no previous owner of this gearbox. The plane had a Rotax engine and was purchased by a dealer, who took it to Titan in November 2016 to upgrade it to an LS3 powered plane, which involves a lot of stregthening of the fuselage, gear, etc. While it was there the plane was started under full power in a crowded hangar, trashing another plane and shredding the prop and damaging the leading edge of the right wing on this one.

The engine would begin to misfire after 30 minutes of flying and they couldn't diagnose the problem until it blew up-- 2 holes in the crankcase per their pilot.

So this was a brand new gearbox installed in 2018. Now it sounds like it's history, never having left the Titan factory.

Sounds like I need to file an insurance claim and get a new box. I bought this plane in July 2018 and still haven't flown in it.

I'm not a happy camper
Sorry to hear the whole story.

Billski
 

pantdino

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You've got insurance that covers mechanical failures? Normally you have to go to the trouble of flying and crashing a plane in this condition to file an insurance claim.

I hate to say this, I suspect you need a lawyer, and it sounds like you shouldn't wait.
I'm new to aviation and don't know how everything works.
So if you have a prop strike the insurance company says "Here's your new prop, but if the crankshaft is cracked, that's not covered"?
 

Vigilant1

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I'm new to aviation and don't know how everything works.
So if you have a prop strike the insurance company says "Here's your new prop, but if the crankshaft is cracked, that's not covered"?
I am not an expert, but I'd be very surprised if a typical aircraft insurance policy covered damage caused by the negligence of a commercial business. If you have "Ground risk--Hull (non-motion)" coverage, see your policy to see if you are covered (it can cover some types of damage caused by other uninsured aircraft, but I don't know if this situation would be the same thing.) Proving the prop strike caused everything else would be a very heavy lift--especially now that you know the bearing was not put in the right spot.

This is big money and a complex situation. IMO, you need a lawyer skilled in these matters.
 

Tiger Tim

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This thread is a (thankfully only financially) sobering reminder that a lot of homebuilt aircraft are never ending experiments.
 

TXFlyGuy

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This thread is a (thankfully only financially) sobering reminder that a lot of homebuilt aircraft are never ending experiments.
As many of us know, these aircraft can be a never ending drain on your checking account. Or at least until the wife puts a stop to it! 😁
 

TFF

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If your plane is covered, they will make you have it all checked. Insurance does not want the responsibility or to cover left over non caught damage Down the road. I have seen them scrap aircraft because of they WERE NEVER GOING TO PAY OFF THAT AIRCRAFT AGAIN. They are sore losers paying out. The But is subrogation. Insurance starts looking for people/ companies connected to sue to get their money back if they think they can.
 

TXFlyGuy

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This is big money and a complex situation. IMO, you need a lawyer skilled in these matters.
This gearbox runs about $12,000-$14,000 (not sure as the Titan website has been pulled). It will take a minimum of 6 months to a year to get a replacement from Neil Hintz - Autoflight New Zealand. It may even take that long just to get new gears, unless Titan has them sitting on the shelf in their factory.

An attorney will burn through $4,000 just in preparation of the complaint. And there is most likely a back log in the legal system now.

Like I was told, getting an award by a jury is no guarantee of getting a financial settlement from the defendant.
 

Toobuilder

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...This is big money and a complex situation. IMO, you need a lawyer skilled in these matters.
"Big money" is a relative term. Going through something similar with the governor failure on my Rocket. In my case, I hired an aviation attorney to draft a demand letter, and that produced an enforceable settlement agreement. That cost about $2500 bucks, but I had HUGE leverage on the shop. That said, the cost of going after the settlement agreement in court (if he defaults) is going to be $10k in legal fees, minimum. Tough choice.

In my case, he's in default but I've managed to pull enough out of him that I'm now right about where a small claims limit ($10k) will almost make me whole. In that case, the $2500 for the demand letter/agreement was well worth it.
 

Vigilant1

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In my case, he's in default but I've managed to pull enough out of him that I'm now right about where a small claims limit ($10k) will almost make me whole.
Titan is located in Ohio, the limit for small claims court is just $3K. So, unfortunately, that raises the cost to take more significant action.
 

TXFlyGuy

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If the defendant simply chooses to file Chapter 11, or Chapter 7, you are just a creditor. Then you get in line with everyone else owed money, and hope you get an award.

But many times the award is worthless. Makes no difference the amount, if there are no funds...

The last time this happened to me, we were awarded 1 cent on the dollar.
 
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PMD

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Hard to stay off of the soapbox about the difficulty in making a reliable PSRU, but this thread is a perfect example.

Sadly, I have a fair bit of experience with bearing missalignment in gearboxes. The cluster gear of the ZF6 gearbox in Ford Stupiduties back around Y2K is, like many other manual gearboxes, supported by the pilot bearing at the end of the crank. Ford in those days had another engine problem that tended to eat that pilot bearing. This is a fairly long shaft (maybe 10 inches) and failure of the rolling element pilot (or wear in the aftermarket "fix" oilite bushings) takes out the gears at the other end in a fairly short time. 0.015" over the depth of a PSRU is a HUGE amount of missalignment for the bearings.

Then there is the bearing swarf in the oil. I once did failure analysis in tribosystems, and have to comment that the carefully made faces of a spur gear really, REALLY don't like hard bits of steel smeared along their contact faces. The bearing is one obvious source, but the ends of the missaligned gears may be another. Also, HUGE chance of microcracks already existing within gear teeth. I very strongly suggest what has already been mentioned of thoroughly cleaning and having someone with the equipment and experience looking carefully at the gear teeth. This kind of failure starts slowly, but accelerates as it progresses. Just not what you want going on in your airplane...especially when you are flying it.
 

wsimpso1

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Somebody else thinks so too.

Ahh, the bad old days of Ford using International/Navistar Diesel engines with their design flaws and poor quality control, including big warranty over crank pilot bore run out, bore size, and position error on RFOB dowels. Everyone (internal to Ford) was so glad when the decision was finally made to do our own engines and cut the cord to International.
Ok, thread drift off.

Billski
 

BBerson

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Seems to me potentially harmful claims here against any company is premature until the facts are known. Was the gearbox machined incorrectly by Autoflight or damaged in a prop strike or modified for excess power at Titan?
If someone asks a company to make experimental modification then experimental results are expected.
 
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TXFlyGuy

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Seems to me potentially harmful claims here against any company is premature until the facts are known. Was the gearbox machined incorrectly by Autoflight or damaged in a prop strike or modified for excess power at Titan?
Pure speculation...but it is pretty safe to say that this gearbox was no different than the other two hundred that are in the field. That is, correctly machined by Autoflight New Zealand.
 

proppastie

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off .015 .....is there that much slack between meshing gears?....could be BS to deflect blame for other design/fabrication/assembly flaws.......Does New Zealand advertise this gearbox for this engine?
 
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