I was steak shopping the other day at the local butcher shop. I noted the price of the filet mignon at a staggering $22.99 a pound. Well, at least you are not paying for the weight of the bone. In the meat tray next to the filet was very nice and inviting center cut thick pork chops; $3.49 pound. Hmmmm…. tough decision.
I don’t know much about the livestock business, but I am guessing with market driven prices and actual cost to bring meat to the market there is a good reason for the vast difference in the cost of a pound of filet mignon versus a center cut pork chop (both are excellent on the grill). Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
In this case, I can only speculate the cow maybe had a special holding pen where it was fed organic feed (huh?), Dasani bottle water and had the latest version of the Apple wireless earbuds playing soothing music. And, surely the masseuse was scheduled no less than once a day to relieve the stress of growing into meat worth more than five times its counterpart pork.
I suppose you could say the same about your turbine engine assuming you are operating one. It cost vastly more than its piston brethren, easily five times, not unlike the meat comparison. I’m not sure how much loving tender care the turbine engine received before coming to market, but I’m confident it was a lot. The difference in this analogy with meat and engines is the meat in the market has pretty much reached its final destination. Whereas the turbine engine needs your continued love and affection.
Let’s move on from the pork and focus on the beef, and likewise with the piston engine versus the turbine engine. That filet is in its final moments of meeting its intended goal of a fantastic meal, while the turbine engine is only beginning after it is installed on an airframe.
After you buy that beautiful filet, ready to become one of the finest meals known, it can still be destroyed by misuse. In nearly all cases, the filet will be cooked on a grill be it charcoal, gas or pellet fired. Here’s where the “operator” of the filet can ruin the upcoming meal; too hot burning the meat, under or over cooking, wrong spices, the list can be rather long in all the ways to botch the final outcome of the filet.
The same holds true for the turbine engine. It arrives in pristine condition, ready to take on many hours of hard work, rarely uttering a whimper. But, to ignore its need for loving care invites disaster. The turbine engine requires attention to detail. It is the Swiss Rolex of internal combustion engines. It should be treated as such.
Complacency can be the downfall of us all. Just because our turbine engine works seemingly flawlessly through the day, hour after hour for thousands of hours, does not mean it does not need your attention. There is a cliché about turbine engines, “Pay now, or pay later, but you will pay.” In other words, money spent in the loving, tender care and attention from the first day on is money saved later in the game. Usually, it is a lot of money saved in maintenance expenses, not counting downtime.
Just because you may be busier than a ‘one-arm coat hanger’ during this season, is all the more reason to pay special attention to that 350± pound power house mounted in front of your cockpit. How well your day goes depends much on how well that engine runs. Don’t overlook scheduled maintenance and for sure do not operate it outside of its limitation (aside from an emergency).
If you think $22.99 for a pound of beef is expensive, try wrapping your head around $1,500 a pound, or more, for a gas turbine engine. With that in mind, for every dollar you spend to massage, play soothing music and bottled water to your engine will come back many fold at HSI and TBO time.
In closing, I’d like to comment on this month’s feature cover story about Kaydee Mitchell. Graham flew out to Arkansas to interview Kaydee after Thrush Aircraft’s Terry Humphrey told us about her training and starting her ag-flying career in the cockpit of a turbine Thrush. AgAir Update has featured numerous female ag-pilots that are growing in numbers. I applaud them. Flying ag is a very demanding job, both physically and mentally. That’s not to say a woman cannot do it, because they can and they do it well. I wish the best of luck and success to Kaydee and that she continues to fulfill her dream of being an ag-pilot for a very long time.