Sister companies provide weight-and-balance services for Boeing CH-47 rotor blades.

Avion/AvTask got its start in 1992 in Wright City, Missouri. The organization’s founders started twin companies Avion and AvTask to serve a unique need—servicing Boeing CH-47 Chinook rotor blades. Avion/AvTask has since become a leader in blade repair and balancing services for the type.

Begun as an engineering-support contractor for US Army Aviation, Avion obtained a contract in its early days to collect and organize data on the structural condition of CH-47 aircraft returning to the United States from Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. That contract led to many hours of labor and numerous test flights to track and balance the CH-47 rotor system.

Developed in Harsh Environments

While working on the CH-47s, Avion hypothesized that operations in the harsh desert environment had caused the rotor blade chord’s center of gravity to change. To test the hypothesis and develop a solution, company engineers created a static balance fixture based on a three-point weight-and-balance theory. Avion and the US Army tested the system at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and Fort Carson, Colorado.

Data from the prototype balancing system initially showed that a shift in the CH-47 rotor blades’ center of gravity did occur; however, the shift was predominately in the span direction, not chord-wise.

The Avion prototype system led to a much improved product for the CH-47 that has since expanded for use on other aircraft. The improved product, called the Universal Static Balancer Fixture (USBF), was sold at the field-unit level and generated data regarding blade condition and blade-condition changes with use.

The field data highlighted that CH-47 blades were becoming heavier with time and could not be balanced by the simple removal of balance weights, due to water intrusion.

AvTask’s Magic Box

AvTask, which provides engineering and prototyping services, created the Magic Box, a hyperbolic chamber for rotor blades, to reverse environmental conditions created by water intrusion. The Magic Box can dry up to 11 Chinook blades at a time. To remove water from the blades, the chamber introduces heating, cooling, evaporation, condensation, and changes in barometric pressure. Boeing approved the Magic Box and designated AvTask as the commercial supplier on its CH-47 blade–overhaul qualified parts list.

Since its inception, the Magic Box has saved thousands of rotor blades from the scrap heap. Today, Avion/AvTask sells both the USBF, which supports more than 30 blade types, as well as a virtual master blade for tail-rotor balancing.

Avion/AvTask also provides CH-47 rotor blade repair and overhaul services, including its patented water-removal process, at its 52,000-plus-sq.-ft. facility in Wright City. The company operates a quality management system certified to ISO 9001, AS9100, and AS9110 standards.

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Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer is the principal of her own firm, Flying Penguin Communications. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and holds commercial, instrument, flight instructor, and instrument instructor ratings in helicopters and a private rating in airplanes. She has worked as a professional journalist and marketing communicator in the aviation industry since the early 1990s.