AEC has sent photos of their prototype, and I have furnished them with applicability data and scans of the IPCs that reflect these handles. It is now time to fish or cut bait. See Photo Gallery, Maintenance, New PMA’d AEC Handles.These will be ‘lifetime handles’. AEC tells me that they are made entirely of aluminum and stainless steel. No plastic, no plated or plain steel parts.
About 5,000 of the Hartwell H2532-13 exterior handles were installed as original equipment. Most of you with airframes using these handles are painfully aware of the cracking problem with the plated plastic housings; not to mention Beech’s current list price of $550 on their replacements. And that list price went as high as $1,200 a few years ago, before I challenged having a $30 part go to $1,200 in about five years. So Beech brought it down to $550.
We have exhausted a number of other possibilities for these handles. We have contacted several sources at Hartwell, and at Enstrom Helicopter. Those sources were priced higher than Beech, or would not sell to us at all. We looked at coming up with an ‘owner-produced-part’ approach, selling only new cast housings. But the tools and skills needed to transfer the parts made that prohibitive; and if a machine shop was hired to do it, the cost would be uneconomical.
So we are left with AEC as a PMA Partner, just like with the gear cushions (donuts). AEC is staring at about a $44,000 initial tooling cost, plus the unit materials and assembly costs. It looks like they will have to set a $350 initial unit price, because of the up-front cost recovery needs. That is more than we had hoped. On the other hand, it is no more than the best I can do (any more) when I search out and find one of the Beech handles (outside of RAPID). The good news is that if you buy the AEC handles, you’ll never have to buy another to replace it.
I need some purchase commitments before AEC will proceed. The amount of money involved essentially rules out any appreciable help from BAC on this one. Many BAC members have an airframe that uses this handle on the main cabin door(s), the baggage door, or both (or all three). Please email me ASAP at mike at rellihan dot com, and tell me how many of these handles you would be willing to buy before the end of 2006, if AEC puts them into production.
In case you are wondering, the AEC handle was deliberately designed to work with the standard lock cylinder. That was so that owners could transfer their lock cylinders and retain same-key operation. It also means that my replacement lock cylinders will fit them, in case you want some that are keyed-to-match.