On 12 March, while being moved to a refueling dock in Santiago, Ed Force One suffered substantial damage after it collided with the ground tug pulling it. The steering pin connecting the tug and Ed Force One became dislodged and when the tug tried to turn the aircraft, the aircraft impacted the tug, injuring the two ground personnel operating the tug and damaging the 747’s two port-side engines. The ground personnel were taken to the hospital and will make a full recovery.
Upon inspecting the damage to Ed Force One it was decided that both port-side (left side) engines would need to be replaced. Replacing two engines on a 747 at the same time is an expensive and complicated process whenever it occurs, but replacing two engines far from spare parts and on a short time-frame introduces even more complications. Air Atlanta Icelandic, the company from which Iron Maiden is leasing Ed Force One, immediately began working to assess the damage, secure parts, and assemble a team to carry out repairs.
Finding Spare Parts for a 747 on Short Notice
Replacing two engines entails replacing not just the engines themselves, but also thrust reversers, and engine cowlings. To do that quickly, the engines were sourced from a supplier in Hanover, Germany. The thrust reversers and engine cowlings came Kemble in the UK and additional tooling and materials were located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Once located, the challenge was to get all the necessary parts to Santiago as quickly as possible.
One 747 Rescues Another
For that, another 747 came to the rescue. A Cargolux 747-400F was chartered to fly from Luxembourg to Stansted Airport and onward to Santiago. The engines were loaded in Luxembourg and the flight departed for Stansted at 17:20 UTC on 17 March. After three hours on the ground at Stansted to load the thrust reversers, engine cowlings, and tooling, LX-VCV departed as CV764 for the 11,732 km, 15-hour journey from Stansted to Santiago.
Getting to Work
Once the spare parts and tools were on the ground in Santiago, the team from Air Atlanta Icelandic got to work replacing the engines. Beginning their work on Friday afternoon, they worked 24-hours a day through Sunday to remove the damaged engines, further inspect the aircraft, attach the new engines, thrust reversers, and engine cowlings. New Ed Force One decals were then applied to the engines and engine run up tests were performed to ensure everything was working properly.
Less than 10 days after being badly damaged, Ed Force One was ready to rejoin the tour. On Tuesday, 22 March, Ed Force One departed Santiago for Brasilia to retrieve Iron Maiden and continue on to Fortaleza.
For more images of the repair process, check out Iron Maiden’s blog post.
All photos of Ed Force One courtesy of Iron Maiden, by John McMurtrie, Bjorn Bjarnason (Air Atlanta) and Jeremy Smith (Rock it Cargo)