By Bjorn Claes
- Introduction by SrA. Eliot C. Creel
- Bright and early in the morning.
- Aircraft launch procedures
- End of runway inspection
- Hot refueling operations
- Integrated combat turnaround (ICT)
- Aircraft recovery procedures
- Thruflight inspection
- Basic postflight inspection
- The end of the flying day
Although it is very hard to describe what kind of ground ops are performed on every F-16 in existance, I am gonna try to provide a general listing of some of the more common daily operations at a normal fighter squadron. Remember though, this is only a fraction of the maintenance and personnel it takes to keep an F-16 proudly roaring over our skies.
Waking Up the F-16 for Daily Operations
- The first order of business is always removing the protective covers that are placed on the pitot tube, the angle of attack probes, the pitot static probe, the engine inlet, and sometimes the engine exhaust.
- The Crew Chief will then set up his communication cord and headset for keeping in touch with the crew member during the launching operations.
- The specialists (which take care of radar, electronics, and environmental systems) will usually come around and perform a short operational checkout of one of their systems.
- The weapons crew normally moves from jet to jet as they do a last checkout of the bombs, missiles, and countermeasures they loaded the night before.
- The Crew Chief will also do a last look around the whole jet for anything out of the ordinary just in case it was missed the night before.
- Around 45 minutes to an hour prior to scheduled take off time, the Pilot now enters the scene and we move to the next level which is launching operations.
Launching the F-16 Fighting Falcon
- As the pilot of the aircraft arrives, the Crew Chief must do 3 things; first, he must remove the arresting gear and nose landing gear ground safety pins, second, he must remove the aces II ejection seat safety pins, third, he must set up the lap and shoulder belts in the cockpit so that the pilot can reach them when he sits in the seat.
- After the pilot checks the aircraft forms (which will be covered later) and does a short walkaround the aircraft, he is ready to be 'strapped in'.
- The crew chief normally connects the anti-G suit hose and the shoulder straps for the pilot because the cockpit is very small and there is no room to move around.
- Now we remove the crew ladder and we are ready for engine start.
- After the pilot and crew chief establish communications, the pilot makes sure it is clear via the ground crew and starts the engine.
- Once it it started, the crew chief leaps into action. He must do numerous ground checks along with the pilot. Some of these include : Checking the brakes, checking the flight controls, checking the speedbrakes. There are about 30 minutes worth of checks to be done, so I am not going to list each one separately.
- Now that the ground checks are all finished and the crew chief has made sure that all the panels are closed and the safety pins removed, he will then go to stand in front of the aircraft to marshall it out of it's spot when the pilot is ready to taxi.
End of Runway Inspections
- Now that the jet has taxied from it's spot, it's time for it to go to the end of the runway to be inspected once again.
- An end of runway (EOR) team consists of 4 people on the take off end of the runway and 3 on the landing end.
- On the take off end, the Crew Chief designated as the "A man" marshalls the jet into the spot of his choice. The crew chief "B man" then chocks the aircraft and plugs in a communication cord so that the "A man" can talk to the pilot.
- The weapons "A and B men" do a quick sweep around the entire jet pulling the pins and arming all of the ordinance loaded onto the jet, they also do a check to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary with their weapons.
- The crew chief "B man" does a sweep of the entire jet to ensure no panels, safety pins, or anything else was left on the jet while it was launched. remember, this is the last checks of the aircraft before it goes into the air, so these checks are of the utmost importance.
- Now that the crews are done, the chocks are pulled and the crew chief "A man" marshalls the jet out of its spot and the F-16 heads for the runway to take off.
F-16 Hot Pit Refueling Operations
- Now that we have flown a sortie, the jet needs gas right? So now we have to refuel. Not all bases or squadrons use this technique for refueling, but it is more interesting than regular refueling as you could probably imagine.
- Hot pits basically means that we refuel while the jet still has it's engines running.
- The team consists of a pit super, a crew chief "A man", a crew chief "B man", and a POL specialist (the person that drives the fuel truck).
- First the crew chief "A man" marshalls the jet to a spot around 50 feet away from the refueling area.
- He then makes sure that the pilot keeps his hands in sight to ensure ground crew safety, tells the pilot to open the in-flight refueling door (to relieve fuel system pressure on the jet) and to turn off the anti-collision light on the tail of the aircraft (see note 1).
- The crew chief "B man" then enters the area of the jet and ensures that the brakes are not hot, that the external fuel tanks are all pinned, and the dearm crew at EOR pinned all the munitions on the jet.
- When that is finished the jet is marshalled into the fueling area and the hose is hooked up and the aircraft is refueled.
note: The purpose behind the light being turned off is because it is directly above and behind the in-flight refueling door on the F-16 and there have been instances reported that a cracked lens on that light mixed with the fumes from the opened IF door have caused explosions.
Integrated Combat Turnaround
- An integrated combat turnaround is the simultaneous munitions loading, fuel servicing, and the quick turnaround inspection of the aircraft in wartime situations.
- The team consists of a Crew chief "A man", a Crew chief "B man", a weapons "1 man", "2 man", and "3 man". Also there is a POL specialist (the person that drives the fuel truck).
- The aircraft is first marshalled into the ICT area.
- The Crew chief "B man" is responsible for chocking, checking the aircraft brakes for overheated conditions, checking the aircraft tires for serviceability, and doing an overall check for aircraft battle damage.
- After the initial checks are done and the aircraft is thought to be serviceable for it's next sortie, the weapons crew is then cleared in to start loading munitions.
- The Crew chief "A man" is responsible for inspecting the engine inlet and the front frame of the engine for foreign object damage and for being the supervisor for the refuel operations.
- The Crew chief "B man" is responsible for inspecting the entire aircraft, servicing, overpressure indicators (delta P's), and checking oil chip detectors are just some of his duties.
- After the munitions are loaded by the weapons crew and the Crew chief "A man" finishes signing off the inspections in the aircraft forms, the jet is ready for it's next combat sortie.
- Only the Crew chief is responsible for recovery of his aircraft.
- The jet is marshalled into it's parking spot by the Crew chief "A man".
- The Crew chief "B man" then chocks the wheels and plugs in his communications cord.
- Both Crew chiefs then procede to safe the landing gear and fuel tanks by inserting the ground safing pins.
- They also open the required panels to do a short check before shutting down the engine.
- After the engine is shut down, the nose landing gear pin is installed and the ladder is placed on the jet for pilot removal.
- Once again, the Crew chief is the only one responsible for the thruflight inspection of his jet.
- The thruflight inspection is accomplished between flights on the same flying day.
- Usually, the first step in this inspection is to fill out the forms for refueling, the inspection itself, and the engine inlet inspection.
- Once the jet is refueled and the engine inlet is inspected for foreign object damage, it is time for the inspection of the entire jet.
- The thruflight inspection consists of a group of workcards which the Crew chief must follow to do his job correctly.
- The servicing levels of the hydraulic fluid systems a and b, the engine oil, the EPU oil, and many different nitrogen levels are checked.
- Once the aircraft forms are completed and all necessary inspections are signed off, the jet is ready for it's next sortie.
Basic postflight inspection
The end of the flying day
[To be continued/completed...]
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