Tinker AFB Airmen complete first repairs on F117 engine

Airmen from the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group and Pratt & Whitney mechanics recently completed repairs on the first F117 engine of the newly-obtained workload. The Pratt & Whitney manufactured engine powers the C-17 Globemaster III. "The significance is that this engine was the first ever produced in partnership with an original equipment manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney," said Col. Robert Helgeson, the 76th PMXG commander. "Additionally, production of this engine qualifies and certifies (Tinker Air Force Base's F117 Heavy Maintenance Center) is capable to produce quality and conforming engines for the C-17 fleet." The Heavy Maintenance Center here opened in June 2010, after three years of planning. Work performed here consists mostly of on-condition maintenance, meaning when field personnel determine an engine isn't operating as efficiently as possible or there is something physically wrong with it, the engine is sent in for repair, officials said. Through the partnership, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center provides floor space, equipment and touch labor while Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney supplies repair instructions, engineering support, supply chain management and repair supplies, officials said. Once the workload matures, engines are expected to arrive here every two to three days, and technicians will fix each engine in an estimated 60 days, officials said. Due to the learning curve, the first engine took several months to finish, but officials said they expect the gap to close as technicians become more experienced. When engines leave here, they are routed to Charleston AFB, S.C., for testing. If they pass, they are assembled onto aircrafts. If engines fail the testing, they are returned here for further repair. Through the next five to six months, testing capabilities are expected to be relocated here, said Leonard Hayes, the 76th PMXG engine business office depot activation manager. Measuring 13-feet wide and 24-feet long, and weighing approximately 10,000 pounds, the F117 is the largest engine repaired at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, he said. A single engine produces approximately 41,000 pounds of thrust, which is nearly twice the thrust produced by an E-3 Sentry's TF33 engine. Four F117 engines power each C-17, enabling it to reach speeds of 450 mph. There are more than 1,000 F117 engines in the fleet, and base officials here are expected to fix one-third of the workload, Mr. Hayes said. "These engines are being used all the time," Mr. Hayes said. "Anytime anything goes across the ocean, it almost always flies on one of these aircraft. These aircraft are also used for in-theater transport." Currently there are 30 mechanics in the shop able to work on four engines, but that too is expected to change, he said. Later this year, after the 45,000 square-foot shop is expanded to 96,000 square feet, the shop is expected to accommodate a demand for six to ten engines at a time, with up to 150 technicians assigned to the workload. Officials at the C-17 Program Office at Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., will invest approximately $43.6 million in the facility and equipment, he said. Within the next two years, management for the engine will be transferred to Oklahoma City, but the airframe will still be supported at Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center. "This sets up the ALC with a long-term workload," Mr. Hayes said. "As other engines are beginning to decline, there will still be a steady work requirement, and we'll be better set up for its way forward." The C-17 was introduced into the Air Force in July 1993 and is scheduled to retire in 2043. Tinker AFB Airmen expect to have the workload until the aircraft retires.
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Source: US Air Force
Date: May 9, 2011