Following the major accident in Chile on the morning of Saturday March 12, IRON MAIDEN have announced that a fully repaired Ed Force One will take off today afternoon, Tuesday March 22, from Santiago Airport to rejoin the tour at Brasília Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport. Following the show at Nilsen Nelson Arena, the plane will be loaded up once again on Wednesday with over 20 tons of equipment and tour personnel to fly to Fortaleza for the concert on Thursday and on from there to Sao Paulo then New York and onwards round the World on The Book of Souls World Tour which visits 36 countries in the five month period.
The accident required the replacing of both of the Boeing 747’s port side jet engines, a tough proposition at the best of times but not made any easier by the fact of the distances involved in getting such huge components, parts, tools and technical crew to Chile as quickly as possible to get Ed Force One back in the air. The engines alone weigh 5000kg each, and cost around four million dollars each.
Ed Force One is leased from Air Atlanta who went into immediate action following the incident, with technical assistance from Boeing. An emergency meeting on the Sunday was called to create a comprehensive detailed plan for this complex operation – locating suitable engines, thrust reversers, cowlings and parts, working out necessary tooling and technical team, logistics of ground and freight transport and tech team travel and a myriad of other detail. All from scratch. The next couple of days were spent putting these plans meticulously into place.
The result was that on Thursday last, March 17, a Cargolux chartered 747 freighter left Luxembourg carrying two huge replacement jet engines, trucked there from Hannover, Germany. The Charter stopped over at Stansted Airport, Essex, UK to collect two more consignments. Cowlings and thrust reversers were trucked there in huge boxes from Kemble, UK, along with tooling and consumables flown in specially from Jeddah to Heathrow and hauled to Stansted.
The engines were cleared by Chilean Customs Friday lunchtime and they were transferred to the LAN Chile maintenance area of the airport arriving just before 2pm. Working in shifts 24 hours a day the techs were then able to start removing Engine number 1 and then on Saturday Engine number 2. Using hoists and cranes the damaged engines had to be detached then lowered into a cradle in order to swap with the new replacement engines. The replacement engines were then lifted up and into a place. Once the support pylons had been inspected and x-rayed and damage assessed, both of which passed with flying colours, then the new engines were attached with, as one of the techs said, a “ million” wires. Both were finally in place and attached by Sunday lunchtime and then the thrust reversers fitted overnight, almost as complex an operation as fitting the actual engines due to being right under the wing. Final piece of the jigsaw was for the Eddie decals to be fitted and then both engines tested by running to full power.
Check entire repair photo gallery at this location.