Avionics News December 2014 - 38
MERRILL FIELD INSTRUMENTS
Continued from page 37
Factoring in the cold, terrain
As customers demo the
equipment, Alaska's bitter cold and
rugged terrain force their way into
the buying decision.
"Living and working in Alaska
is a different animal to be sure,"
Marcinek said. "We run into a lot
of things that are not designed to
withstand extreme cold for long
periods of time, so that is always
a consideration, especially when
we're buying new technology. We
have to ask, 'Will it work for us?
Will it blow out on a rough landing?
from OEMs have you
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What happens if a guy cold soaks
his airplane at 40 below?'"
In Alaska, some equipment has
less than half the life of components
in warm climates, according to
"Plus, so much of the flying
in Alaska involves landing on
unimproved runways, gravel strips
and sandbars, so stuff gets beat up
and bounced around a lot more than
in other places," he said. "There's a
lot more wear and tear."
The winter is hard on the
technicians, too. On extremely cold
days, engines don't start, even with
warmers. Cold bolts don't move
as easily. Cold fingers aren't as
nimble. After the month of October,
every aircraft must be towed into a
Along with the cold temperatures,
the technicians contend with the
lack of daylight. By December 15,
they'll only have five-and-a-half
hours of sunlight a day, arriving to
work in the dark and going home in
"In the middle of winter, the sun
will come up at about 10 a.m. and
go down about 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.,"
Marcinek said. "The temperatures will
hit minus 20. It's no fun when it's 20
below zero for 10 days, but at least
that only happens once in a while."
In Anchorage, Alaska, it isn't
the brutal cold winters or the
short, dark days that foil avionics
technicians at Merrill Field
Instruments the most. It's the time
"Our biggest challenge is getting
parts," Marcinek said. "If we
need parts from the East Coast,
they are four hours ahead of us.
When we're getting in, they're
already at lunch. When we need