Vacuum Pump Manufacturer Closes Doors, Refuses New Orders...

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3% Failure Rate "Too High"...

Aero Advantage of Granbury, Texas, has stopped production and closed its doors after the discovery that both pumps in its Dual Rotor Vacuum Pump can -- and have -- failed simultaneously. According to a notice posted on the Aero Advantage Web site, company President David Boldenow says the failures are concentrated among 300-hp Lycoming IO-540 engines, which the company believes generate a "resonant frequency resulting in the breakage of both graphite rods." Though the failure rate as tracked by Aero Advantage is just 3%, Boldenow says the number is unacceptably high. Vacuum pump shipments have been halted and orders on hand will not be filled. According to Boldenow's posted statement, the changes needed to improve the reliability of the vacuum pump may already be in place, but the company is not in a position to survive the expected three- to nine-month down time for implementation. Boldenow says there are several interested parties considering making the safety changes and marketing the pumps once again. Aero Advantage was started by Boldenow five years ago as a way to improve pilot safety in instrument conditions by offering a redundant vacuum source within one unit. The Dual Rotor Vacuum Pump contains two pumping chambers that operate independently of each other. Boldenow says the way the pump was supposed to work was that if one chamber failed the other would supply enough suction to operate the gyroscopic instruments.