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Author Topic: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity  (Read 88298 times)

Gary LaPook

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Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« on: November 24, 2011, 12:52:05 PM »

There is now incontrovertible proof that the plane did NOT land on Nikumororo. NBC news reported that the Airworthiness Certificate for the airplane was just discovered in California and that this Airworthiness Certificate must be carried in the plane at all times, so this means that the plane was secretly brought back to the U.S. and then disposed of. Since the plane made it back to the U.S. it could not possibly be found on Niku.
See the NBC stories available here:

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/45417206/#45417206

gl
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2011, 02:44:33 PM »

Obviously the plane never left California by air.  I well remember my ground school instructor explaining that it wasn't horsepower, nor aerodynamics, nor even Bournoulli's principal that enabled an airplane to fly, it was the airworthiness certificate.  Without it, an airplane could not fly, and that was that!


I now believe that those odd little aluminum clips found on Niku were supposed to hold the certificate.  They were on Niku, not attached to anything at all, simply because there was no certificate to hold, and no aircraft to hold it to. Therefore they were not aircraft parts, which also explains the difficulty explaining what they are.  If they were aircraft parts, they would be in California, with the rest of the missing aircraft.

The two people who flew away from Lae in 1937 must have been Japanese tourists.  If they were on a secret spying mission, that would explain everything.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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richie conroy

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2011, 03:24:56 PM »

thats probably from the first attempted flight that failed, as she would have needed a second 1 to confirm plane was airworthy after crashing
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richie conroy

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2011, 03:31:12 PM »

also that cetificate is dated 15 august 1937
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2011, 03:33:10 PM »

thats probably from the first attempted flight that failed, as she would have needed a second 1 to confirm plane was airworthy after crashing
-------------------------
Except that new airworthiness certificates are not issued after a crash and repair, planes continue with the original airworthiness certificate which is issued when the airplane is first manufactured, it only certifies that the plane is airworthy when manufactured. Repairs and inspections needed to confirm continuing airworthiness are contained the in maintenance log books.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2011, 03:34:05 PM »

also that cetificate is dated 15 august 1937
-----------------------
No, it's dated 7-36.

gl
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richie conroy

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2011, 03:36:12 PM »

sorry that expiry date ov certificate  ::) but makes u wonder why it was for so long
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Brad Beeching

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2011, 04:39:30 PM »

A mechanic that worked for Paul Mantz... with all kinds of memorabilia.... I wonder if there might be photographs of the repairs made to the Electra after the first world attempt? How about more detailed photos of the rear cabin that might show "dado's" or any manner of useful tidbits....

Brad
Brad

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« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 04:41:45 PM by Brad Beeching »
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John Joseph Barrett

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2011, 06:42:59 AM »

"incontrovertible proof"??  Sorry, Gary. Finding the airworthiness certificate in a box of memorabilia owned by an aircraft mechanic who worked for Paul Mantz is certainly not " incontrovertible proof ". An interesting keepsake for sure, but no proof of anything, other than maybe that the plane didn't crash and sink, at least not with that certificate aboard as it doesn't appear to be water damaged. I guess one could say that the plane could have water landed and been recovered floating and that would explain the certificate not getting wet. Problem is, according to the radio experts and the post-loss radio transmissions that are credible, the plane couldn't transmit while floating. That doesn't preclude the possibility that the plane landed on a beach or reef, trnsmitted, and then washed away to be recovered while floating around. That leads to another issue, for the plane to have been recovered, either from a beach/reef or afloat, a salvage ship would have been required. Remember, there were no heavy-lift helicopters in 1937. A ship large enough to hoist the plane aboard would have to have a reasonable large crew. I find it hard to believe, though not impossible, that not one crewmember ever mentioned to anyone having salvaged the plane or crew. I giess that the plane could have been disassembled if on shore and then packed and shipped back to California and that is how the certificate made its way into the mechanics box. I think it much more likely that the mechanic obtained the certificate while repairing the plane after the failed first attempt. I understand that planes can't legally fly without the certificate aboard. In my limited flight experience I have never once seen a pilot waving the certificate out the window so the tower can see it before receiving permission to take off. I think a plane can fly just fine without that peice of paper aboard, just as unregistered cars can drive just fine or unlicensed drivers as well. For the record, I've written lots of tickets to unlicensed drivers and drivers of unreistered/uninsured cars so I can tell you from first hand experience that not having a piece of paper does not prevent the car, or plane for that matter, from functioning just fine. As far as proof goes, if that certificate had been found nailed to a wall (or maybe held iin place by the mystery clips) in a shack on Nikumararu it would carry more weight as to the plane having been there than it does having been found in a box owned by an aircraft mechanic in California with a connection to the plane through Paul Mantz. Same goes for any serialized parts. Find me a part from the plane in California that you can prove came from the plane after it left Lae and I'll believe the plane was recovered. Find me a part on Nikumararu and I'm more inclined to believe the flight ended there. Find me a substantial part of the airframe itself and not a replacable part and I'll believe you've found the plane. I think the mechanic obtained the certificate while the plane was being repaired and kept it as a momento. Would anyone have noticed that it wasn't there before or at any point during the flight(s)? If it had been noticed, would anyone have really considered it a big enough deal to delay the flight(s) or announce that it was missing? I still believe that the plane landed on Nikumararu and that parts of it are still there today. There is simply too much evidence to support that. The airworthines certificate does nothing to refute that, at least not to me.   LTM,  -John
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Ricker H Jones

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2011, 08:59:43 AM »

Ric's Research Bulletin on the fuel system gives some of the licensing chronology.

"On October 29, 1936 George Putnam wrote to  the Bureau of Air Commerce to straighten out some confusion about the airplane’s  license which described it as having a fuel capacity of only 394 gallons. The  airplane had originally been licensed by Lockheed in the Experimental category  with the 1,198 gallon system. After it was sold to Earhart, she licensed the  Electra in the Restricted category in August during a brief period when the  fuselage tanks had been removed to install a “false floor” (no explanation). The  airplane had never, therefore, been licensed in the Restricted category with the  long-range fuel system installed. In the October 29 letter Putnam stated that “the existing tankage ... is identical with that in the ship at the time of the  first license.” In other words, 13 tanks totaling 1,198  gallons.

The Bureau, of course, required an inspection before  issuing a new license. When the airplane was inspected and licensed on November  27, 1936 the 51 gallon fuselage tank was gone, and the 100 gallon wing tanks (in  the baggage lockers behind the engines) were now 102 gallons. Total fuel  capacity was now 1,151 gallons."
 
 
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2011, 09:35:28 AM »

Everybody,

I'm sure Gary was joking about the 'incontrovertible proof.'

There is no mystery about the documents.  We have copies of the same paperwork. We're still working along on getting the full file of BAC documents and correspondence relating to c/n 1055 rendered legible so that we can put it up on the TIGHAR website.

Briefly:
On July 19, 1936 Lockheed registered c/n 1055 in the Experimental category as X16020. At that time the plane had a total of 13 fuel tanks with a total capacity of 1,198 gallons.
On July 24, 1936 the airplane was sold to Amelia Earhart. At that time the registration painted on the airplane was X16020.
Some time after July 24 but before August 6, Earhart had the number repainted to NR16020 and filled out the application form that is shown in the on-line slideshow. That application was rejected (note that it has no date or inspector name).
On August 6 she submitted a new application.  At that time the fuselage tanks had been temporarily removed and the airplane's total fuel capacity was only 394 gallons.  The application was accepted on August 7 and the airplane was registered in the Restricted category - but not approved for international flight.  The number was changed to R16020 and on August 18 1936 the certificate shown in the on-line slideshow was issued.  (Our copy of that same certificate has the stamped date "August 18 1936" at the top.)
The airplane was approved for international flight on September 21, 1936 and the BAC authorized the number to be changed to NR16020.
In late October, the BAC noticed the discrepancy between the airplane's actual fuel capacity (the fuselage tanks had been reinstalled) and the current license.  Putnam replied, saying that the tanks had been out for only a short time and the total capacity should be 1,148 gallons - which was a typographical error - the correct number at that time was 1,198 gallons.
The BAC issued an amended certificate showing the total capacity as 1,148 gallons.
In November the fuel system was modified and on November 27, 1936 a new application was accepted showing 12 tanks and a total capacity of 1,151 gallons.  Another amended certificate was issued, this time not showing any fuel capacity.
Following the rebuild in April/May yet another application was made and yet another amended amended certificate was issued.  This one showed the correct fuel capacity of 1,151 gallons. The original of that certificate is the one that should have been aboard the airplane on July 2, 1937.


 

« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 09:37:32 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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richie conroy

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2011, 10:58:35 AM »

why does the certificate say the plane is for research aswell, or would an around the world attempt be classed as research ?

as to see if it was possible
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2011, 11:04:51 AM »

why does the certificate say the plane is for research aswell, or would an around the world attempt be classed as research ?

as to see if it was possible

Earhart and Putnam called the plane a "flying laboratory."  It's alleged purpose was research.  The world flight was supposedly a research flight.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2011, 11:12:43 AM »

thats probably from the first attempted flight that failed, as she would have needed a second 1 to confirm plane was airworthy after crashing
-------------------------
Except that new airworthiness certificates are not issued after a crash and repair, planes continue with the original airworthiness certificate which is issued when the airplane is first manufactured, it only certifies that the plane is airworthy when manufactured. Repairs and inspections needed to confirm continuing airworthiness are contained the in maintenance log books.

gl

Agree that what you say is the norm today, Gary.  But, things were a bit different under the Bureau of Air Commerce in the '30's - tickets expired after a year and a new C of A would be issued upon a new finding of airworthiness. 

Another reason this may have happened is one of the causes given for revocation of a C of A in CAR 0 policy of the day: 'failure to maintain the aircraft in an airworthy condition'.  Although it can be argued that a restoration to airworthy condition was planned, NR16020 definitely was not in an airworthy state after the Luke Field crash - and a new finding would have to have been made before she could be returned to service.

Today that simply means the 'permanent' certificate is not valid until airworthiness is found and appropriately documented by someone enabled to do so under FAR 43, including for the purposes of major repairs, etc.  But in NR16020's day a new certificate was required upon that finding - hence the old term 'relicensing' with annual every year.  The same would logically apply to a wrecked airplane.

It is not a stretch then to see an inspector voiding the existing certificate when NR16020 showed up with major damage.  The 'punch holes' further suggest this course - that is still a means used to this day when a certificate is voided or revoked, but returned to the owner for the file.  Additional pressure to do this could also have come from the nature of the bird (highly modified) and the nature of its intended operations - these would be seen, then and now, as 'high-risk / high-visibility' issues, which tend to make authorities extra-cautious in dealing with such things.

I suspect some of this was the case for NR16020.  There could have been other reasons - including something as simple as needing to replace a 'lost' certificate, misplaced while work was going on at the Mantz facility.  Had that been the case, and the original turned up later, the late-found certificate could easily have been 'punched' (as this one was) to render it invalid - and given over for the file, later turning-up as a keep-sake.

There's also the possibility that somehow, in the middle of all AE's sterling planning, and, despite much excellent execution of details, like radio-handling arrangements and the like, that the certificate was simply overlooked... ; )  That has happened more than once in this world.  I can hear it now, as Fred Noonan was ripping the certificate frame off a bulkhead (by tearing out the little hand-made gidgies that held it there...) - "AE - looks like we got away without the CERTIFICATE!  You're going to be in hot water when we get back to Oakland...".

Later, some lucky chap finding himself in possession of an artifact that had been among his bosses possessions may have 'done the right thing' and had BAC (or if a bit later, CAA) punch the ticket.  That just seems odd though - it really seems more likely the authorities had this in their possession when NR16020 showed up for major repairs, punched it and returned it for NR16020's own records, only to have it turn up as a keep sake later.

This chap's stuff would be lovely to comb through.  Maybe there are others, too.  Mantz was colorful - and most may recall that he died filming 'Flight of the Phoenix' (the original - with REAL aviation stunt work).  Perhaps he left behind a hangar full of goodies that got sifted out here and there - maybe more records from the day, including photos, will yet turn-up.  That could really be helpful.

In any case, good find, Gary, and it is very interesting to see this artifact - however it came to be where it was found! 

And, surely you had tongue-in-cheek as you mentioned 'incontrovertible proof' that NR16020 could not have wound up anywhere other than where this certificate found itself?  One hopes... ; )

LTM -
-------------------------------------

I noticed all the points you bring up, so we agree on this.

Here is the link to the reently found documents.

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/New-Amelia-Earhart-Photos-134331928.html

The "Restricted Aircraft License", is  image 20 in the collection, and  the story says that it must be in the plane at all times so how did it show up in California when the plane was supposed to have disappeared?

Before anybody goes off on some conspiracy theory based on this, this document is not a "Standard Airworthiness Certificate" (even though the story identifies it as such.) I am attaching an example of one. A Standard Airworthiness Certificate is a permanent document, it never expires, and it stays in the plane forever. This document is limited in its duration since it expires by its own terms in August 1937. It is very similar to the current "Special Airworthiness Certificate" which is issued for non-standard aircraft and operations and so has restrictions on the operation of the plane and it's duration. See attached examples. Image 20 is the superseded license and a new, and current one, would have been issued and carried in the plane on the last flight. August 1937 would have been cutting it pretty close on the world flight so Earhart applied for a new one after the plane was repaired. Note the two holes punched in the document which shows that this document was canceled and was no longer valid.


Further, images 18 and 19 is the application for the aircraft license, image 20. The application is dated July 1936 and lists the fuel tanks, 2 @16gal; 2 @ 81; 2 @118; 2 @ 100; 3 @ 149; 1 @ 70 and 1 @ 51 gal, a total of 1198 gallons. We know that the 51 gallon tank was removed.  Removal of the 51 gallon tank and changing the capacity of the 100 gallon tanks to 102 brings the total to the 1151 we are familiar with. Since image 20 was issued based on these numbers it was also necessary for a new license to be obtained after the one tank was remove which, again, explains why image 20 did not disappear with Earhart.

I think the discrepancy between the 100 gallons listed on the original July 1936 application for a license and the 102 gallons listed for the wing tanks is most likely a simple error. The blueprints for the fuel system lists the tanks as 102 gallons but the blueprints are dated later so that doesn't clear up the mystery. Anyway, we can be sure that they didn't rip out the 100 gallons tanks to be replaced by 102 gallon tanks after the Luke field crash, the wings didn't sustain a lot of damage and the blueprints are dated prior to the crash. And it would be hard to justify the expense of taking the wings apart to install tanks that held only two gallons more. If they needed an extra four gallons it would have been a lot easier and cheaper to modify one of the fuselage tanks.

gl
« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 04:46:55 PM by Gary LaPook »
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richie conroy

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Re: Airworthiness Certificate(s); fuel capacity
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2011, 11:15:04 AM »

ok thx Ric was just querying  :)
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