Select KC-135 and C-5 engines are getting a good scrub, which could lead to future fuel and maintenance hour savings.
Subcontractors have washed more than 340 out of 650 F108 and TF39 engines using atomized water in an Air Force Materiel Command-run test program.
"We're hoping for not only fuel efficiency benefits, but cleaner engines should also help from a maintenance perspective," said Lt. Col. Jason Avram, AMC engineer.
So far, engine performance test data is positive, said Maj. Adam Langborgh, the AFMC water-wash program manager.
"As more air flows through a clean engine, it operates at reduced temperatures, which means less wear and tear on the engine. Less wear and tear on the engine equals less maintenance," he said.
The potential savings of routinely water-washing air mobility aircraft is significant due to the high altitudes and extended missions that the large aircraft fly, Langborgh said.
Atomized water washing began on C-17 engines with positive results, which spurred the current testing, Langborgh said. Due to the early success of the KC-135 and C-5 aircraft water wash progam, the Air Force will also evaluate the TF-33 engine.
Engine water wash is not a new concept for the Air Force. Currently, if a KC-135 flies near salt water, its engines get washed with regular water in order to prevent corrosion, said Master Sgt. Chad Barnes, AMC engine manager.
The atomized water wash targets not only the turbine fans but the engine core. A similar engine core wash was tested in the past using a solvent; but disposal of the solvent-infused water could present environmental concerns, Langborgh said.
"Since then, industry has come up with heated deionized water wash that is just as effective as solvent-based wash with less environmental concerns."
In all aircraft washes, vendors use systems to safely catch runoff waste, Langborgh said.
A June 2012 test report will help leaders analyze the value of an eventual Air Force-wide program, he said.
by Capt. Kathleen Ferrero
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Related Research on ASDReports.com: