Patricia is a Director at Metal Seagulls Ltd, ULPower Aero Engines’ UK and Ireland dealer…. We asked her a few questions…
Q. Tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got interested in aviation and engineering?
A. I was born in Ghana, West Africa, where I was brought up in typical West African village, fetching water on my head each morning, cooking over an open fire and learning by oil lantern as we had no electricity. One day, I walked onto an airfield near where I was staying with my uncle. I asked for a job, but was told that they did not employ women. Not to be outdone, I offered to work for free. Long story short, I started work by digging out trees and clearing shrubland for runways. A few months later I was offered a place in the workshops learning about aircraft engineering.
Q. So did you study Aviation in university?
A. No. My family could not afford further education for me. So, I managed to complete an apprenticeship at the airfield in Ghana. They were Zenith/Zenair and X-Air delaers as well as the Rotax Centre for West Africa. Whilst I undertook my apprenticeship I became the first woman to obtain the Ghanaian national pilots licence, the first woman to be certified by Rotax Aircraft engines, and also a flying instructor. I like learning by doing – and I would recommend apprenticeships to young people as an excellent way to build knowledge alongside gaining experience.
Q. So have you actually built a plane?
A. I have built a number of planes! I have built/rebuilt Zenith/Zenairs and X-Airs and helped with installations and challenges in a number of other aircraft types. I recently completed a Zenith/Zenair CH750 STOL which I built as a project to get young people – especially young women – involved in aviation and engineering. Out of the 300+ participants, over 75% were female and or under the age of 25! I will repeat that excercise next year with a Zenith/Zenair CH750 CRUZER powered by the ULPower UL350iS, 130hp engine.
Q. So do you service engines too?
A. Of course I do! I love servicing engines! Changing oil, checking the contents of the oil filter mat, listening to the engines and making sure that they are in top form is a real pleasure.
Q. You are the first woman to be factory trained by ULPower Aero Engines, on the installation and maintenance course. What do you think of the engine?
A. The ULPower range of engines are simple, robust, easy to maintain and offer a really low cost of ownership. They are certainly easy to install – and come in a box with pretty much everything ready to run… I am really impressed by the engineering side of the engine. You can access the engine components easily and the maintenance and trouble shooting kits make looking after the engine a dream. I will be running a series of training programmes in the UK in 2018 sharing that knowledge with my client base!
Q. You say that the engine offers a low cost of ownership, what do you mean?
A. Well, the oil filter is less than ten euros, and a fuel filter kit with 2 pre-pump and 1-post pumps filter are together about half the price of another engines post pump filter alone. The air filters are so cost effective you can afford to replace them rather than clean them, and the spark plugs set costs about a quarter of another aircraft engines spark plug set. Then there are no gearbox inspections to pay for, no magnetos to service, no carbs to service or balance, only three or four litres of oil needed at an oil change and the electronics of the engine are able to be mounted clear of the engine heat ensuring a long life on those components too. I also love the fact that the factory is offering a fixed price overhaul at TBO – and their pricing is very competitive. Finally, the fuel consumption of these engines is excellent, so you can see why I am happy to promote these engines to my clients in the UK and Ireland!
Q. Is engine ownership cost such a big part of being an aircraft owner?
A. If you are buying or building a plane for a flying school, aerial surveillance or other ‘revenue generating’ function, it is easy to justify a higher cost of running an engine. If you are flying a hundred hours or less per year, which is what most privately owned aircraft achieve, then your maintenance costs can make the difference between enjoying your flying or constantly being worried about the costs. Over the years, many aircraft engines have shifted their focus towards the ‘certified markets’, I am so pleased that ULPower have planted their flag on the hill of the non-certified aircraft and the development team are determined to ensure that these aircraft engines remain outstanding value for money at purchase and sensible hangar guests when it comes to feeding and vets bills, I mean maintenance bills!
Q. What about technical support for ULPower Aero Engines?
A. Technical support is key to the success of a brand. Not only is the ULPower range easy to provide technical support for, but the whole network is made up of experienced aircraft builders and flyers. Add to that the rapid responses we get from the Head Office in Belgium and I would say that the ULPower technical support network is amongst the best of any aircraft engine out there. I for one am always ready to answer technical questions and assist clients in installation, maintenance and trouble shooting should it be needed – and I know that the rest of the worldwide team have the same approach… you should interview them!
Thank you Patricia, we will… and we look forward to hearing more about you in a future interview.