Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Birth Of Trolley "X"

Once upon a No 5 Squadron, RMAF Base, Labuan...

Nuri pilots...I'm sure you've experienced difficulties in starting the ever faithful Nuri using the batteries. During my flying days, it was a real problem and it could cause an embarassment to the RMAF, especially during VVIP communication flights.

Readers...remember my article entitled "MacGyver Of The Air Force"? The pilot was unable to start the Nuri at Tenom grass strip. The captain attempted to start the engine a few times until there was no more fuel in the fuel line. The root cause for this 'snag' was due to weak batteries.

Readers...There is no problem to start one engine at RMAF bases or at airports since the Auxiliary Power Units (APU), eg, Houchin, are available most of the time. At airports, I often used the services of MAS's APU, where possible, and they had never rejected my request.

Of course without the APU, the engine is started using 2 x 28VDC Nickel Cadmium batteries. One is located in the 'nose' compartment (picture on the left) and the other in the battery compartment (picture on the right).

  Just like your cars, the batteries will be recharged during flight. However, if there are too many short 'hops', then the batteries have no time to recharge. This type of flight was very peculiar to VVIP/VIP communication flights.

Let me tell you something about 'engine start' limitations...

...When you press the starter button on the SSL (Speed Selector Lever), either you or your co-pilot presses the 'T5' button on the 'cyclic stick' to control the T5 (Turbine Inlet Temperature) so that it does not exceed 745*C. If it exceeds...abort. Wait for 3 minutes before the 2nd attempt. Maximum...3 attempts. If the T5 exceeds 940*C the engine experiences 'over temp'. If this happens, then the engine requires a check to ensure no damage to its parts, eg, turbine blades.

During my daily 'pow-wow' with all my aircrew, engineering officer and his SNCOs, we discussed this matter. Well, the Crewman Leader, WO1 Arumugam, suggested that what we should do was to have an 'improvised auxiliary power' using additional batteries. What needed to be done was to have 2 x Nickel Cadmium batteries set in parallel and connected by a cable which was then plugged to the aircraft using a NATO plug. Peanuts...isn't it?

WO1 Arumugam voluteered to undertake this project. Within a week, he demonstrated his innovation. 2 batteries were placed in a box complete with a cable and a NATO plug. The demonstration was a success. Of course, the electricians were in the team too. For no apparent reason...we called it "Trolley X". Mind you, this trolley was heavy...each battery weighed 50 lbs. Total weight was about 110 lbs. Sometimes we had to use the hoist to winch it in or out of the Nuri. was worth the effort since I never heard my pilots complain of 'engine over temp' after this 'power booster' became part of the aircraft equipment.

Now...of course you don't have this problem anymore. Your Nuri is equipped with 'Power Pact Trolley X'...Lucky you!!

Power Pack Trolley "X"

Sitting: Left to Right: WO1 Arumugam, Capt (U) Mohd Sulong, Capt (U) Aziz Laji, Maj (U) Nor Ibrahim, Capt (U) Hassim, Capt (U) Hashim Darus, Flt Sgt Patrick Lee
Standing: Left to Right: Sgt Hood, Sgt Jaafar, Lt (U) Ali Ghani, 2Lt (U) Mohd Merejok (arwah), 2Lt (U) Sharbe, Lt (U) Lau, Lt (U) Muru, Lt (U) JH Loh, Lt (U) Ibrahim Hashim, Lt (U) Sabri Adam, Flt Sgt Azizan, Sgt Yeap (Taken in early 1982)

I'm very proud to say that No 5 Sqn was then the only Nuri squadron using this 'prototype' Trolley X before the Power Packs are introduced as part of Nuri standard equipment. It makes me wonder why the Power Pack is also called 'Trolley X'? Is it an established name for the Power Pack? In all honesty, I never knew of its existence then. Or... Is it in recognition of my Sqn's remarkable 'innovation'? If so...I'm greatly honoured! Or, is it purely coincidental? As far as I can remember, my squadron was the only one using this 'home-made' technology; the other Nuri squadrons, ie, No 3, No 7 and No 10, did not have this in their inventory.

I would really appreciate if anyone could enlighten me on this matter.

Encik Aru...wherever you may be...Thank you.



Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,since you raised this subject matter, i will relate an incident where-by the 28VDC Nickel Cadmium batteries onboard the Nuri suffered an temperature run-away-up on my chopper while flying back to RMAF Kluang.
,,,an loud 'bang' was heard in the cockpit followed by an electrical chemical burning smell and high temp. indicator in the instrument panel. In fact, a hissing sound as if there is a cobra snake below your feet was also heard after the mini explosion. My immediate action was to find a landing opening while flying over head the jungle but there were none safe enough for an emergency landing so I carried on until reaching an oil palm plantation and landed her between the young trees.
,,,upon landing and shut down, we could see the blown-up front panel where 2nd 28VDC Nickel Cadmium battery is located and had to try to disconnect it since it was boiling over with hot whitish hot foams, a highly dangerous substance that is formed by trapping many gas bubbles in a liquid form which was spreading into the other avionics below the cockpit area and destroying many other components !!. It was impossible to remove the failed battery due to the explosive action so what we did next was to dismember the rest of the equipments below one by one between the dripping foams, which indeed was hard dirty work under that circumstances.
,,,when the aircraft recovery crew finally arrived much much later, they were indeed surprised to see the Nuri all cleared of its avionic items which indeed were saved by our pro-active action !!.
,,,Lucky me,(or RMAF) I always carry along my "MacGyver" tool kit in my flying bag i.e. a Swiss Knife and an adjustable spanner ! that were utilised to its maximum on that unfortunately day. But we suffered with some bad chemical burns upon contact with the hot foams too in the process of saving the aircraft from further damage.
.....the moral of the story is be prepared !!..and be innovative too.

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Dear Sharif,

Thank you for your comments. I sincerely hope more pilots will spare their time to pen down their experiences for the benefit of the others. It was a real pity these experiences were not made known to the pilots those days.

Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,Dulu tiada IT Yeop Oii !!
,,,Actally, its in the incident report but as usual no one else cares to read ?. Guess, my students were lucky, they were all well briefed on "do & don't" as such all of them are still alive, from my last count. Hahaha.!!
,,,unfortunately, there were very few writers in the Sqn. then except for some nutty sqn. adjutent like you can guess who hahaha !!. b4 i left, i drafted the S61 Training & Instructional Manual, just wondering if any up-dates/revisions been performed.
,,,Later in civilian street, i co-developed/implemented both the softwares on Aviation Health Safety/Security & Env.(A-HSSE) and (GLMS) - Global Logistics Management System for the Oil & Gas plus Aviation Industry. Also involved in setting up the heli. simulator profile for Eurocopter for the offshore chopper guys to be trained on.
,,,nowadays i still conduct team building/leadership/management courses too at Capt's Longhouse.
,,,Actual practical land & sea survival trg. courses will be available in 2010 onwards at Kapas Island for aircrew training.
,,,esok ASTRO CH 105 at 0730 p.m. ada wayang about Capt's Longhouse at Kapas Island hehehe...don't miss it yaa. KapasWood, touch wood but not the Tiger ..hohohoo.

Anonymous said...

Assalam. .if I can remember well..the name is 'Trolley Acc' abbreviation for accumulator. In other words..a number of rechargeable
batteries connected in series to provide power. Abd karim abdul