Lycoming Problems with connecting rods requiring immediate compliance

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Hot Wings

Grumpy Cynic
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"Lycoming has determined that a small percentage of the bushings manufactured by a sub-supplier during a specific time period were diametrically undersized, resulting in a tightness of fit below factory accepted tolerances."

Where is their QC? Don't they do that in house or do they actually take the vendors word for the quality!? :para:
 

Toobuilder

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It is very common for subcontractors to have their own in house QC. Often the prime will make random visits and spot check, but 100% QC? No.
 

Victor Bravo

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I have a very good friend who worked for 20 years as a QC and production line inspector at Lycoming in Williamsport. He said they used to build everything in house, and their engines were really high quality. Bet your grandmother's life on it. Then (after he had left the company) some beady eyed little white collar rodent decided to sell off a bunch of their machinery and mfg. equipment, coming up with the scheme that they could outsource most of the parts and simply assemble the engines at Lycoming. He said that all of the old timers who built the engines knew immediately that it was the end of the "bullet proof engine" era, and that Lycoming's reputation would suffer greatly.

There ought to be a law... oh wait, there is one.
 

gtae07

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Then... some beady eyed little white collar rodent decided to sell off a bunch of their machinery and mfg. equipment, coming up with the scheme that they could outsource most of the parts and simply assemble
We see that happen over... and over... and over... and over... in this field, and in others. Inevitably, quality goes down and costs due to delays, rework, additional inspections, etc. go up.

How many more times is it going to take before people realize that this is a dumb idea?

I mean, heck, even in MBA school that was a lesson they drove into us--"never outsource your core competency". Not only does it damage you in the short term (as I noted earlier), but you also wind up kickstarting a future competitor and undercutting your own business.
 

TFF

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Every couple of years, Lycoming tries to outsource something and they get bit every time. 2003 was worse with the crankshafts. Judge made them get all the engines in the field fixed first; they only made about a 1/4 of normal output. It took a year to take delivery of at the time our new helicopter. No engines were available for a year. There is no money in it being made in America. I was at a trade show and this Chineese sales persone came to me in the booth I was working and wanted the forging and casting business for this American helicopter company. They would promise 100 to 1 parts. 100 parts for the cost of one US. I said something like they dont sell enough to even use 100 and their sales person said something like, throw the ones you dont use away. Cost of liability, US work force, knowing that the market is small and would die if they asked, what they wanted, is a way to not make money for sure. How ECI has ever stayed in business is much more crazy, than a couple of hundread small end bushings that the company stepped up for when one tore up one engine. We were looking at an aircraft that had one of the bad engines; sales flight took about 4 weeks to set up as it had one of the engines. One of the rods did not pass the test and was replaced.
 

Victor Bravo

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We see that happen over... and over... and over... and over... in this field, and in others. Inevitably, quality goes down and costs due to delays, rework, additional inspections, etc. go up.

How many more times is it going to take before people realize that this is a dumb idea?

I mean, heck, even in MBA school that was a lesson they drove into us--"never outsource your core competency". Not only does it damage you in the short term (as I noted earlier), but you also wind up kickstarting a future competitor and undercutting your own business.
You're an MBA and an AE??? Wow. You can build your own aerospace company and then sink it :)
 

Swampyankee

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"Lycoming has determined that a small percentage of the bushings manufactured by a sub-supplier during a specific time period were diametrically undersized, resulting in a tightness of fit below factory accepted tolerances."

Where is their QC? Don't they do that in house or do they actually take the vendors word for the quality!? :para:
Since the 1980s, it has become normal for aircraft manufacturers to off-load QC to vendors, so, yes, they likely took the vendors' word for quality. I used to carpool with a QC engineer who had worked at Norden; they had done their PCB drilling in house, then subbed it out. He claimed the rework expenses went up so much that they lost money going to the lower-priced subcontractor than doing it in-house. Since many MBAs don't believe in evidence or looking at company-level costs, they didn't care. Of course, this is the same company that bid $650 million on a fixed-price contract for a leading-edge, very high performance radar system for the Lavi and ended up spending something $1.6 billion and failed to meet the specs. Then he Lavi got canceled because somebody in DC (which was funding a significant chunk of the Lavi program) thought it was pretty dumb to be funding a competitor to the F-16, which had only recently entered service.
 

gtae07

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You're an MBA and an AE??? Wow. You can build your own aerospace company and then sink it :)
No, no, no... you have it wrong... you build the company, find some investors, hype up the product, and then "retire". Let it sink on its own. Obviously you haven't been to business school.

;)

MBA school was an expensive lesson in why I should not, and do not want to, go into management. I thought I did when I started; by my last semester I was fed up but figured I might as well finish it out. Yeah, I can better understand the company's financial statements now, and I had a really good Econ professor... but overall it really just makes me


. Since many MBAs don't believe in evidence or looking at company-level costs, they didn't care.
This is one of my greatest workplace frustrations. I'll leave it at that, since I need some alcohol to really get that rant polished up.
 

TFF

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I think any employee in the corperate headquarters believes that they will have a job no matter what happens on the core bussiness floor. They all believe the bussiness is there for them instead of them in support of the bussiness.
 

Kyle Boatright

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No, no, no... you have it wrong... you build the company, find some investors, hype up the product, and then "retire". .
Never retire. Hang on as long as you can pulling in a 7-8 figure income. Be the last man standing when the ship goes down... Alternately, have your stooges... I mean "The Board" write you a contract with a tremendous golden parachute, so when they run you off, you get millions in immediate and deferred compensation.
 

Swampyankee

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I think any employee in the corperate headquarters believes that they will have a job no matter what happens on the core bussiness floor. They all believe the bussiness is there for them instead of them in support of the bussiness.
Bingo. Somebody, possibly in jest, once said the best way to make US manufacturing more competitive with Japan was to send Japanese middle managers to get Harvard MBAs.
 

Dan Thomas

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It is very common for subcontractors to have their own in house QC. Often the prime will make random visits and spot check, but 100% QC? No.
Modern CNC machinery has the capability to mike a bushing as it's parted off. Small corrections for thermal expansion complete the check. The machine can adjust the depth of cut to achieve the correct dimensions. It sounds like Lycoming's "contractor" might be some guy with a manual lathe.

This issue is past the SB stage. http:// https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/08/10/2017-16968/airworthiness-directives-lycoming-engines-reciprocating-engines
 

Winginit

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I would tend to think that the bushings are probably finished externally with a grinding machine and internally with a grinder/or a hone . If so, holding suitable tolerances should be a no-brainer. But then with Lycoming, nothing surprises me anymore.
 

Hot Wings

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I would tend to think that the bushings are probably finished externally with a grinding machine and internally with a grinder/or a hone . If so, holding suitable tolerances should be a no-brainer. But then with Lycoming, nothing surprises me anymore.
You would think that something this basic shouldn't cause problems but....

Way back in the dawn of time I ordered a case of rebuilt VW rods - IIRC from Brazil. One of the first engines from that batch came back less than a month later with a noise. Turns out it was a loose upper rod bushing. It had little more than a heavy hand press fit. Bushing measured just fine but upon further inspection you could see honing marks in the rod where the surface had been 'cleaned up'. I ended up checking a bunch of that batch of rods by checking the press fit. Enough failed that I tossed the whole batch (around 100) in the iron bucket and found an old school machine shop in Denver to do my rebuild work. I always got a few of the cores back because they couldn't be rebuilt.

If a small shop like I used could implement proper QC there is no reason Lycoming can't - and make sure it's suppliers are actually getting the job done. There is too much corporate maleficence that is accepted as normal. :depressed
 

Winginit

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You would think that something this basic shouldn't cause problems but....

Way back in the dawn of time I ordered a case of rebuilt VW rods - IIRC from Brazil. One of the first engines from that batch came back less than a month later with a noise. Turns out it was a loose upper rod bushing. It had little more than a heavy hand press fit. Bushing measured just fine but upon further inspection you could see honing marks in the rod where the surface had been 'cleaned up'. I ended up checking a bunch of that batch of rods by checking the press fit. Enough failed that I tossed the whole batch (around 100) in the iron bucket and found an old school machine shop in Denver to do my rebuild work. I always got a few of the cores back because they couldn't be rebuilt.

If a small shop like I used could implement proper QC there is no reason Lycoming can't - and make sure it's suppliers are actually getting the job done. There is too much corporate maleficence that is accepted as normal. :depressed
What I have found is that many grass roots businesses often are more conscientious about supplying parts that are correct, because they are trying to stay in business and hopefully get more business. One year I had some gears on order from the Federal Supply system. The FSS stocks materials for the military. I had to get them before the end of the calendar year because the contract that funded this purchase along with a multitude of other items was going to expire on Dec 31. The FSS had been telling me they were scheduled for delivery at the end of Nov. Well the end of Nov came, and no parts arrived. I called a friend I knew in another department and had them do some checking. Turns out, the order had never even been placed. This put me in a bad situation. I contacted our most reliable and local machine shop who had bailed our a##es out many many times. They couldn't help with this, because they weren't equipped to make the gears and could not insure that any of their sources could do it quickly.
Floundering about, I located a company in Florida that made the exact same gear other than a Mil-spec difference on material for the Air Force. Explaining my predicament, the owner/operator promised me he would get them done for me. He was very professional to talk with and I believed him. He red eyed some material from Kalifornia....ooops, wrong stuff. He immediately ordered more, giving it his personal attention. Anyway, within 3 weeks he had the gears made and delivered to me and they were all in spec.
I called to thank him and told him I would look for some other work that he might be interested in. Shortly thereafter, a real plum of a job showed up. I contacted him and had him submit a bid. When it came time for placing his bid, I pointed him in the right direction and tried to help with any questions he had. Since no one else submitted a bid on the job, it was awarded to his company and he ended up bidding on a much larger contract with the FSS to make the same item. There were a few other jobs that he quoted and got too. All in all it turned out to be a real boon for his company because he was willing to put the effort out when needed.
When you purchase things on the open market, there are dozens of companies that contact you offering great service and lower pricing. What you find is that there is a lot of lip service and glad handing. When you do find the ones who sincerely strive to make and deliver quality products, you stick with them and try to help them.
If Lycoming has a company that they can trust, there is nothing wrong with doing business with them.....they just have to realize which ones are which. All of that being said, its also entirely possible that Lycoming used specs that were incorrect and the subcontractor made them just like the drawing. Remember, they did that with the crankshaft fiasco and then tried to blame the subcontractor.
 

Aesquire

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We called it the Curse of the Harvard MBA. One company that will become nameless that I worked for, In QC, went from the #1 employer in the area to a small group of executives giving themselves bonuses for how cleverly they managed to sell all the working parts of the company, and stealing the retirement fund.

I was there for the beginning of the end. We had a product that was going to be the Big Seller, that had issues with many things, but the 2 big ones were that the million molded parts that did X were designed wrong and needed a bevel on one edge to trip the micro switch. So 24/7 they had employees on overtime manually milling these parts in rework, hundreds of hours in the tooling dept. making jigs to do so, and the product didn't make it to the shelves by Christmas, which for a consumer item means 70% of your yearly sales sometimes. The other problem was it just did a poor job. There was an internal group in the company that managed to make it to a board meeting, and the presentation was short and painful. Basically, "it's a piece of junk that's going to anger our customers and ruin our reputation, but we've figured out how to adapt the new tech to an older product making it the best on the planet, and we can have them by Christmas." The Board listened politely, then told them they were idiots and didn't know anything about anything and go back to work, shut up, or get fired.

Oh, yeah, and it burst into flames. But that was a minor issue.

After they laid off the first 4000, I couldn't get a job for over a year in the field since I'd worked for "those guys".

I have a list of things a company says that tells me to sell their stock immediately. "A new Paradigm" is one of them.
 
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