The aviation experts at Robson Forensic provide evaluation of damages and repair estimates toward the resolution of aircraft insurance claims disputes. The parts and labor costs associated with these highly specialized systems can be astronomical and our experts provide a check and balance on the pertinent details to ensure that costs and the scope of work are both reasonable and sufficient.
This article provides a brief overview of an insurance claim that was investigated by Aviation Maintenance Expert, Matthew Lykins.
Aviation Repair Evaluation – Aircraft Exposed to Flooding
Incident Description: A failed water valve at an aviation repair facility caused water to flow into the premises during off-hours, flooding the facility. As a result, the insured aircraft was exposed to floodwater and high humidity for approximately 48 hours.
Matthew Lykins was retained by the insurance carrier to evaluate the claimed damages to the aircraft parts/components, the proposed scope of repairs to be completed, and the associated costs. The exposed aircraft parts/components within the claim fell within three general categories:
- Engine assembly
- Engine mount assemblies
- Aircraft instruments
The engine assembly was not in direct contact with floodwater. However, it was in the flooded area of the facility and therefore exposed to the high-humidity environment. The insured aircraft was equipped with an early version engine that incorporated outdated magnesium components that were highly susceptible to corrosion on their internal and external surfaces. Corrosion related repair to these components is limited and costly. Replacement costs of these components alone far exceed the total value of the complete engine assembly. Finding serviceable replacements is challenging as the manufacture of these components has been long discontinued.
A thorough evaluation of the effects of the flood environment on these components would require a complete engine teardown and inspection. Due to the combination of the engine age, storage timeline, and flood exposure, it is more probable than not that these magnesium components would fail the corrosion inspection and would require repair or replacement with serviceable components.
At the time of Mr. Lykins’ inspection, an airworthy replacement engine assembly was located with a sale price of $70,000 USD. Additionally, the vendor was willing to accept the incident engine for a $20,000 USD core credit. Mr. Lykins determined that this path was the most predictable and practical.
Engine Mount Assemblies
A total of five (5) steel engine mount assemblies were exposed to floodwater during the event. There were no visible indications of water damage or floodwater lines on these mount assemblies. However, they were constructed of 4130 chromoly steel tubing, which require evaluation of corrosion on the internal surfaces of the structure. This level of inspection can only be performed by repair facilities with the required specialized equipment. Mr. Lykins provided the requisite information to an appropriately equipped local repair facility that subsequently provided a quote for work to be completed. The required evaluation of these mounts, including stripping, fixture testing, inspection, stress relieving, and repainting was $1,100 per assembly.
Through the course of their inspection, the repair facility identified that one of the engine mounts appeared to have been involved in a previous accident and was economically unrepairable. They discovered another engine mount had been modified and appeared to be a shop jig of fixture and no longer an aircraft part. As a result, these mount assemblies were excluded from the claim.
The aircraft instruments listed in the claim were all directly exposed to floodwater and therefore required to be overhauled or exchanged with airworthy components. The costs within the claim were determined to be accurate.
During his inspection, Mr. Lykins also discovered that several aluminum aircraft rudder pedal assemblies were exposed to the flood event. These items were not on the original claim, but Mr. Lykins added them to the project scope.
Aircraft Insurance Claims Investigations
Considering the costs and highly specialized nature of aircraft systems and components it is common for parties to an insurance claim to seek assurance that both the costs and scope of repairs are prudent. Robson Forensic provides evaluation of aviation damages and repair estimates to insurance and legal professionals as well as aircraft owners.
For more information contact the author of this article or submit an inquiry through our website.
Aviation Maintenance & Mechanical Expert
Matthew Lykins is an Aviation Maintenance expert with 25+ years of experience servicing, maintaining, inspecting, troubleshooting, and repairing experimental, private and commercial aircraft and helicopters. Matthew was previously a technical instructor for America Trans Air Training Academy where he taught blocks of training required under FAA Part 147. He also served as an FAA Designated Mechanic Examiner, administering the FAA oral and practical exams to applicants for the Airframe and Power Plant certificates.