fuzzybabybunny Posted October 28, 2016 Share Posted October 28, 2016 (edited) Well, I figure I should write this up as a learning experience for myself and others. It's been a very trying experience that I don't think I ever want to repeat. I've been flying in New Zealand and I needed to travel to Melbourne, Australia. My kit is a Backbone with a ROS 125 engine. ------ Backbone chassis, cage, harness and tank weighs 12kg. 90cm tall, 50cm wide, 40cm deep (requires a large box for a lawnmower to fit - or about 200 liters!) ------ ROS 125 engine weighs 14kg. 60cm wide, 45cm tall, 33cm thick ------ Four days before my scheduled flight I pulled the engine off the frame, took off the air box, flushed the fuel system, took apart all the fuel hoses, opened the throttle body, and opened the carb and allowed it all to dry and be open to the air for four days. I took paper towels and wiped everything. I washed the fuel tank over and over with hot water and detergent. I washed all the hoses with water and soap. Flushed the primer bulb and fuel filter. After three days of airing I: Wrapped plastic wrap all around the throttle body (airbox detached). Wrapped the entire engine in an entire roll of paper towel. Wrapped the entire engine in an entire roll of plastic cling wrap. Put the entire engine in two layers of thick plastic garbage bags. Put the fuel lines and bulb and filter in two layers of ziploc bags. Put it all into a bag with lots and lots of padding. ---- Shipping ---- All prices are in NZD. The fuel tank and air box I shipped in the same massive box as the chassis and harness. Cost was about $170 just to Melbourne (the cardboard itself was already 6kg + 12kg equipment @ $9/kg shipped). The collapsed cage wouldn't fit in the box so I had to put it in a ski bag as check-in baggage. The engine was just in its own separate heavily padded backpack. Qantas is the only airline that allows internal combustion engines. 30kg is included for baggage, but I had to buy an extra 5kg @ $13(!) / kg = $65 for the motor and ski bag and ski equipment. ---- Shit ---- And this is where it all went wrong. I declared my engine at the check-in and had all the paperwork ready. I asked the person if people have checked engines before and they say it happens sometimes. The moment I take the engine out of the bag the person goes "WHOA that's a HUGE engine" and I'm just thinking "crap crap crap crap crap." She has me open the thick plastic garbage bags to do a sniff test and she immediately say that it smells. It smells heavily of *plastic bag* but the attendant simply says it smells. Calls another attendant over and she says she smells something too. Finally a third attendant comes over but takes the engine partly out of the garbage bag because "the plastic bag smell was too strong." Unfortunately he smells "a bit" of petrol and points to the propeller mount. Anyway, the engine gets denied passage, I had to pay $10 to store it for a friend to pick up, and I hopped on the flight with my remaining luggage. I lost the $65 I paid for excess baggage because it's nonrefundable and I never got to use it. If I had not had a friend to pick it up for me, I would have had to forfeit my entire ticket and deal with the added complexity of arranging more accommodation for additional days and transportation to that accommodation with a long ski bag (most taxis don't take ski bags). --- Aftermath --- So now I'm in Melbourne with my engine stuck in another country with a friend who doesn't know anything about engines or paramotors. --- Lessons Learned --- If you try to take your engine as checked baggage on a flight, it's a roll of the dice. You might get through sometimes, but that *one* time you have issues your logistical complexities and cost will increase exponentially. Fuel smell is really hard to get rid of 100%. Less than a drop of fuel spread out over the entire surface of an engine and I bet it would still be detectable by smell. Attendants don't know what fuel should smell like. The first two people got it completely confused with the strong smell of the plastic bag and they would have erroneously denied passage to it even if all I had was a grapefruit in the bag. Putting it in multiple sealed plastic bags just helps concentrate any little bit of leftover odor that might be hanging around. If I *had* to check it on a flight again, I would have packed the hoses and bulb and filter in a completely separate container. Or just thrown them out. And I would have taken the engine completely out of the bag for them to sniff because I didn't smell a thing when I had finished cleaning the engine before wrapping it up. But the best bet is just to ship the engine separately. There's too much at stake when you try to check an engine on a flight with you. Having a really light kit that breaks down really compact (NOT a lawnmower box) will save you so, so much elbow grease, sweat, aggravation, and costs. Edited October 28, 2016 by fuzzybabybunny 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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