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ROTORwrench…Tips, Tricks, and Info - November 2016

Posted 5 years 272 days ago ago by Scott Skola

Helicopter Maintenance Blog* 

November 2016

As the future of vertical lift continues to evolve at a brisk pace, enter Uber Elevate. While the ride-share company has previously used helicopters, this concept pushes the proverbial envelope.


I seem to recall eons ago… when I read old (even to me) Popular Science magazines that featured stories of flying taxis and family cars. I think it was from the ‘50s. Not so much a new idea, but potentially doable in the near future.

However, I’m still old school when it comes to autonomous flying machines. My computer still freezes on occasion, emails get lost, and web pages show up in HTML. So you won’t see me boarding one without a fully functioning carbon unit up front.

Moving along…

206L Series; 407
ATA 71

One of the headaches during an engine installation is connecting the input drive shaft and rotorbrake disc/calipers on the engine side. This tip allows you to install and safety these components prior to engine installation.

The most important consideration is protecting the IDS from damage. Especially when crossing the firewall threshold. A second important item is ensuring the hoist/crane used will provide the flexibility needed during engine installation. 

With the IDS installed on the engine, one must align the engine differently and stab the shaft through the firewall. Several techniques exist, but it comes down to a personal preference and ability.

The OEM driveshaft, with grease couplings, requires protecting not only the shaft surface, but also limiting the articulation of the couplings. One method uses various diameters of PVC tubing, split length-wise, along with Velcro or a similar means securing the PVC to the shaft/couplings. There is no set design, but a close example would be the shipping restraints and retainers for a 222/230 IDS shown below.

Another protection method for an OEM shaft is to fabricate an aluminum beam(s), securing the forward coupling to the shaft and then to the aft coupling or the engine. This restricts the shaft movement, plus provides a mechanical protective barrier.

The K-FLEX drive shaft requires only protection of the shaft and flex beams. The shaft is rigid and does not droop. A number of materials can be used to protect the shaft surface: heavy cardboard, rubber, kydex, etc.

After installing the IDS, with the rotorbrake disc and calipers, the key is to guide the engine/shaft assembly from above or the side, into the mount legs and firewalls. With practice this tip can shave two to three hours off an engine change. [Submitted by Rw]

Here’s a couple journals from Airbus Helicopters:



Have an old tip or trick you’d like to share with your fellow mechanics? Or maybe a question that you can’t seem to find an answer to? Or just some info to pass on?  Send an email to [email protected]

About the author:
After 32 years maintaining helicopters in various capacities, Scott concluded a full time career with a major operator in 2014. When not pursuing future writing projects, he can still be seen around the flight line tinkering on aircraft for beer money. 

*And to keep the hounds at bay, the information contained in this blog is for discussion purposes only.