"Sally B" Grounded.

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Airframes

Benevolens Magister
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Aug 24, 2008
Cheshire, UK
Following the possible problems with wing spars on B-17's, as discussed regarding USA based aircraft, elsewhere in the forums, Europe's only currently airworthy B-17 has been grounded with immediate effect.
The B-17G "Sally B", owned by Elly Sallingboe and based at Duxford, UK, has been grounded until such time as any problems are identified and rectified.
Sad to see this happen, but let's hope it can be sorted and we can see the "Fort" back in UK ( and European) skies soon.
 
The problem is, where the damage is located. There are no replacement spar chords available anywhere in the world. The cost to set up and manufacture those parts, as originally designed, would be well into 7 figures. Couple that with the cost to replace them, and you are well into a 7 figure per aircraft repair. The most likely outcome, is the consortium of B-17 owners will end up funding the engineering to design and qualify new spar chords, but without the internal taper that severely complicated manufacturing them.
 
Sadly we must accept that the time is fast approaching when if we do not ground these wonderful historic aircraft, then there will more accidents perhaps fatal . So we will have to learn to accept that at least we can view and explore them on the ground still in one piece for many years to come. Better that than none at all having been reduced to scrap iron. We can all view films of them in flight, although it's not the same as actually seeing them "alive" in flight. I can remember the V-bombers and Javelin at Air shows. The sound of them can never come across the same when seeing on film. That sound vibrated and went right through ones body something that other aircraft has never achieved. But we can still view them on the ground all in one piece.
 
I'm all for keeping them flying, and hope we can keep doing so for quite some time. However, if it is neither economically feasible or cannot be safely done, then I would rather see them in a museum where they can still be appreciated rather than see them turned into a smoldering hole in the ground.
 
The FAA posted an AD (Airworthiness Directive) mandating an immediate inspection (NOT an immediate grounding) of the wingroot attach points on all US B-17s. The US aircraft that were grounded (not all were, it was voluntary) were out of an abundance of caution after one airplane was found to have a left wing that was about to fall off (figuratively speaking, but it was pretty close). The owners of the Sally B followed suit out of caution. The FAA has a proposed method of inspection that while possibly expensive would allow the airplanes to continue to fly when passed. First is a visual insp. of all wing attach points for abnormal or excessive wear, cracks, etc.. If any are found then an eddy current insp. of the root/wing fittings is mandated. If there are no issues or when the airplane is repaired then the airplane is fit to fly. If the airplanes DOES NOT PASS, then you're looking at either a permanent grounding or a very, very large pile of money to make the airplane compliant. At least that's what I got from the AD Notice. This is like a lot of other ADs that have been put out, that it's relating to the B-17 makes it esp. noteworthy. Very, very few airplanes have not had at least one AD Notice on them. Some have been comparatively minor so to speak, some have been major. ALL MUST be complied with.
 
The issue has been resolved [on which aircraft? The AD or the rework (if required?] and B-17 ["B-17" singular?] are back in operation. And they'll continue for as long as possible. And my colleagues and I will work hard to see to it - I am one of those fortunate people who maintain and fly one.

This needs clarification. AD-2023-00620 mandates an NDT inspection, the results of which may require rework of cracking and/or corrosion. All inspection results (whether negative or positive) must be reported to the FAA (18 US-registered aircraft plus Sally B; 4 of these considered current flyers). Until all affected aircraft have been inspected and either given the OK or had any rework completed, the issue isn't resolved.

Do we know the global status of AD compliance? I'd be surprised if it has already been accomplished on the 19 B-17s affected, though I understand that most of the US-based aircraft have been released.
 
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Two of the US based flyers have been returned to flight status. Sentimental Journey completed the inspection and indicated no problems. Ye Olde Pub was not required to preform the inspection due to having completed the other AD that addresses issues in the same area, within the time/hours requirement. Aluminum Overcast will not return to the air until sometime in 2024 under the present schedule. Unknown as to Yankee Lady, as they have not released any information on the status. Sally B is currently working the AD, with no status given yet.
 
Thanks for that: from what I read of the AD, it's up to the operator to identify an NDT procedure (based on the two techniques suggested) which will then be agreed by the local FAA rep. Not sure whether that's a good or bad thing, though it does give the impression that the FAA has only identified an issue rather than helping operators to solve it. I guess that's their job.
 
Thanks for that: from what I read of the AD, it's up to the operator to identify an NDT procedure (based on the two techniques suggested) which will then be agreed by the local FAA rep. Not sure whether that's a good or bad thing, though it does give the impression that the FAA has only identified an issue rather than helping operators to solve it. I guess that's their job.
I made these images of a B-17G spars undergoing work, prior to this directive. The first image where the top secondary spar attachment lug (not sure what to name it) is bolted into the spar point. Note at the 11 O'clock position the small crack line. The first bolt holes was cut out during the removal process. The lugs have been repainted and I assume flux or whatever to confirm they are good. The two holed lug connects to the fuselage at the top of the wing mount and the three hole at the bottom wing mount. Also replaced is the 'carrry thru' spar, that runs across the bomb bay to the wing mount points. In the image with the wing attached, the carry thru spar has been removed. The aircraft is on extra 'supports' during this work. In the bomb bay image across the bottom is the forward bottom carry thru spar. The last image is of two carry thru spars that have been removed. Newly manufactured ones were put in.

Tony
 

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