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At Cloud Nine, we’re always planning ahead. We have always taken excellent care of our aircraft, and made improvements to them that have helped to improve the efficiency and reliability. Most importantly, we make decisions that allow us to keep our costs at a minimum. We are very successful at this. When I did the calculations regarding the end-of-life cost of our 310 when we sold it, our hourly cost for the 310 was a whopping 30% lower than the average hourly cost for other Cessna 310s as determined in a recent poll of aircraft owners.
We’re already looking ahead with the 414 and figuring out ways we can save money. We got virtually all of the parts required for annual discounted or donated, for instance, but there’s more to come. A big one is upcoming expense engine overhauls. Although both our engines are running great now, the right engine is coming close to its recommended overhaul interval (TBO, in pilot speak). Although we will run it as long as it is safe to do so, we expect that we will need to overhaul it within the next 1-2 years.
We have sourced a great opportunity for a core engine that we can rebuild and then put on the 414. I will rebuild this engine myself with the help of our mechanic. This will then allow us to put this engine on and overhaul the right engine in time to put on the left engine (which is a bit younger and thus we expect will last a bit longer). Why not rebuild the engine on the aircraft? We absolutely can. However, by rebuilding a core engine we will be able to take our time doing the overhaul, take the time to get as many parts discounted or donated, and minimize downtime when it comes time to pull the old engine and put this one in. If we pulled the engine and rebuilt it ourselves, I would expect a downtime of at least 6 months, probably more. We simply can’t do that. This would reduce downtime to under one month.
Of course, engines are serious business and overhauling one is not to be taken lightly. Our mechanic rebuilds engines regularly, and I spent years as an engineer designing and improving aircraft engines just like these. The end result of overhauling these engines ourselves will not only be a huge cost savings, but a better result. When we’re done, we’ll have one engine leftover, which we will then sell.
How much will we save by doing this? We expect to save roughly $30,000 between the two engines. That’s a ton of money that we can put towards saving more homeless pets!
I have started a GoFundMe to help track our progress in raising money to buy this engine. We’ve negotiated an excellent price for it, but we need your help to raise the $6,500 required to buy it! I’m happy to report that, including donations made towards the cause directly through the Cloud Nine Website, we’ve already received more than 10% of our goal.
Many of our fans are pilots and aircraft owners or operators as well as animal lovers. So for all of you, I have an extra carrot. If we reach our goal and are able to buy this engine, I will document every step of the overhaul process and share it with the world, right here on Cloud Nine’s website. You will get to see how I go about an engine overhaul and the decisions made in the process (as well as discussion about the options to consider).
Please help us embark on this journey! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Ideally, we will have this engine completed before we see any signs of problems with either of our engines that are currently on the plane. If we have problems arise first, that will mean more downtime, and it will also cost more money to get us back in the air. By being proactive, we are making the best use of your donations, allowing us to help save more homeless pets!
You can make a donation at the GoFundMe link below, or as always through the Cloud Nine website (www.cloudninerescueflights.org/donate). Thank you for your support!