July 22, 2010 (by TSgt. Mark Adams) - A team of 10 members from the 56th Component Maintenance Squadron, 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and 56th Maintenance Group came together last week to improve the process of repairing the jet engines that power Luke's F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet.
The team was comprised of enlisted and civilian technicians ranging in experience with the Pratt and Whitney 220/E engines from one year to more than 30, as well as a set of outside eyes represented by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Pfarr, 756th AMXS crew chief, who also played the role of a customer to the Propulsion Flight.
"This was our third of three Air Force Smart Operations for the 21th Century events looking at the repair process of an inducted motor," said Master Sgt. Darrell Collins, 56th CMS Propulsion Flight test cell section chief and the team's co-lead. "Our last events concentrated on the look and fix phase, which consisted of receiving the engine from the flightline all the way to it being ready for test cell inspection after its disassembly and repair. This time we focused on the final phase, which includes testing the motor and the last look inspections prior to designating it a spare asset."
The first step of the final phase was learning the process, said Staff Sgt. Alfonso Loustaunau, 56th CMS jet engine mechanic.
"We were shocked to discover that the testing of the engine, which only takes about one shift to do, actually has more steps involved than the final inspections of the motor which can take an average of six shifts," Sergeant Loustaunau said.
According to Airman 1st Class Dillon Herndon, 56th CMS jet engine mechanic, the team discovered a lot of waste with self-imposed policies that forced waiting for alternate shifts to inspect motors.
"We just took the waiting for other shifts for granted," Airman Herndon said. "We never saw it as a loss of time, but rather just normal operating procedures."
After the final phase was completed, the team out-briefed Lt. Col. Ricky Ainsworth, 56th MXG vice commander, with projected results.
The team said the process can be reduced from an average of 3.8 days to three days eliminating a shift-and-a-half in the flow time. They also found that identifying leak trends, discovered at test cell, can help to train proper installation procedures to potentially eliminate rerunning an engine, which can use an average of 5,000 gallons of fuel if needed to perform an augmentation (full afterburner) run.
"This allows us to save an estimated 17,500 dollars in fuel costs per leak check run that doesn't need to be accomplished," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Price, 56th CMS test cell technician. "It also lessons our environmental footprint."