Each year the Flying Eye Hospital undergoes a maintenance and safety inspection that is required by the FAA to ensure that the aircraft is fully compliant with all regulations. Prior to “b-check,” as it is officially called, all items on the plane must be removed; unpacking the ORBIS DC-10 takes approximately 10 days. A team of fifteen ORBIS staff and volunteers is currently in Singapore to assist in making sure that the aircraft is ready for b-check on November 22, 2008.
Today was the first day of unpacking the Flying Eye Hospital in Singapore. The plane will be undergoing maintenance checks later this month, and so all medical supplies and equipment has to be taken off and stored for the next two months.
This morning, I arrived at Paya Lebar Airport, an old airport mostly used for maintenance now. Armed with boxes, tape, and lots of bubble wrap, I was joined by 12 Flying Eye Hospital team members and Bruce Johnson, director of aircraft operations.
On our way to the ORBIS DC-10, we had a chance to explore the hanger. We walked around a little bit, underneath lots of airplanes that were undergoing all sorts of repairs. We also went up to the temporary ORBIS office in one of the hangars; it will be used by the flight mechanics and the aircraft operations department throughout the maintenance checks.
Finally, the Flying Eye Hospital came into view. I have seen it once before, but it is still an impressive sight to see. (It also got a nice thorough wash while it was parked in Dubai, so it looked even better!) Once on board, we split into teams to tackle the different rooms. With the pilots up front, the doctor and biomedical engineers in the laser room, the nurses in the operating room, and the rest of us in the administrative/communications room, we worked very efficiently and were able to make a good dent in the unpacking. Luckily, we are not doing an inventory of the medical supplies – this will be done during the repacking in January.
Unfortunately we ran out of boxes pretty quickly so we had to end a little earlier than expected. But tomorrow we will head back out into hot, humid Singapore for another day of unpacking!
The Flying Eye Hospital recovery room is slowly packed away into boxes