VP-FBQ de Havilland Canada DHC-7 of the British Antarctic Survey
Caz Caswell reminisces:
When this Aircraft first arrived at the field Aviation facility, for what was a very long and complex Modification Project it was registered G-BOAX.
Because of the amount of work required to be performed, including the strengthening of the main spar, undercarriage and major interior modification, it was decided to use Hangar 3 for the entire project, so that the Aircraft would not need to be moved about as other smaller, or at least shorter Projects came and went.
The only minor problem being Hangar 3 had a low entrance so to get the Aircraft inside required tilting her to get the tail in first, a semi-routine procedure for getting DHC-8 and DHC-7 Aircraft into Hangar 3.
But on this occasion, during the maneuvering, the Tug pushing the Aircraft into the Hangar had to perform a sharper than normal turn to straighten the Aircraft as it moved under the entrance and into the Hangar space; at this point the Tow Bar twisted and one of the Tow Bars outrigger wheels punched a hole in the fuselage just above and forward of the Nose wheel! But this also caused the Tilt to come off the Aircraft and the Tail headed for the ceiling, just missing two Hangar Roof Beams (which would have caused major structural damage, post incident investigation estimated that hitting the beams could have resulted in a possible right-off) instead the tail only managed to destroy a light fitting!
On checking the puncture in the Fuselage it was discovered that outrigger wheel had only just missed two Nose Stringers and therefore although the Puncture looked bad, the Aircraft Structural integrity had not been compromised!
One of the Modifications that BAS (British Antarctic Survey) wanted investigated (before including it in the work schedule) was to incorporate a full Ski Undercarriage. So the Field Aviation design team set to work and produced a full set of engineering and aerodynamic studies. These resulted in Wind Tunnel models which were tested by Measco in Oakville.
These Wind Tunnel tests proved the Field Aviation design, but because of high wing design a lot of additional rigging and supports were needed to be added to the Aircraft, resulting in additional drag, loss of Airspeed, Payload and increased Fuel Burn. All of the information was put into a proposal/report and forwarded to BAS.
For many weeks BAS thrashed this out at their HQ; finally deciding NOT to proceed and the Ski Undercarriage Modification was cancelled. Now wouldn't that have been a sight!
British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Web Site
British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - Wikipedia Entry
de Havilland Canada Dash 7 - Wikipedia Entry