August 6, 2010 (by A1C Anthony Jennings) - History was made Aug. 4, as the first accelerated packaged maintenance plan, or PMP, on an F-22 Raptor in a deployed environment came to a conclusion.
Members of the 27th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit, deployed here from Langley AFB
, Va., completed what has never been done with a fifth-generation aircraft before. A PMP is a scheduled, long-term, heavy maintenance on a fighter aircraft, performed every 300 flight hours.
"It's much like your car," said 2nd Lt. Lauren Chaffee, 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. "Every few thousand miles you bring it in for a tune up. Well with fighter aircraft, it's every 300 flight hours."
The process normally takes a month complete. The deployed unit was tasked to accomplish an accelerated PMP in 10 days.
"A dedicated team of 16 personnel working 12-hour shifts around the clock, to get the job done made this possible," said 1st Lt. Ikedinachi Akagha, 27th EAMU. "It's just incredible we were able to get this, not only planned, but executed. Everything fell into place so well over these past ten days."
The project has been in the works since January. The unit went over several scenarios to try and predict what could go wrong before anything actually did.
"We were, in essence, trying to build the perfect plan for a jet that has never had an inspection of this magnitude," Lieutenant Akagha said. "With the aircraft being relatively new, the engineers and maintainers are still finding issues, as with any new aircraft."
"You are going to have to address some changes that are needed so you can apply those lessons learned to newer aircraft," he added.
In order to meet their goal, they started by re-doing the entire schedule.
"Usually we have each team on the aircraft separately," said Lieutenant Akagha. "With the accelerated PMP, we tried to consolidate everything. We had to figure out how many different agencies or teams can we have on the jet at once."
A low observable team would pick off any panels the PMP inspection team may need to get into. The inspection team then runs through their list of checks ensuring everything is operational. They then re-panel the aircraft and hand it back over to the low observable team so they can re-layer the jet.
"Despite the crunch, high ops tempo and stress of just performing a month-long inspection in such a limited time, we pulled it off which is just huge," Lieutenant Akagha said.
Once an aircraft comes within 30 to 40 flight hours to its next scheduled PMP, it is grounded and won't be allowed to fly until it has gone through a proper inspection. There are different criteria at the 300, 600 and 900 marks. This particular jet was at its 900 hour mark, which can be the most intense and comprehensive inspection, said Lieutenant Akagha.
"With potential threats and the potential for conflict in this region, we need to ensure there is a plan in place in case we have to send jets to fight when there is too little time between its next flight and next PMP," he said.
"It's better to send a jet that is fresh and inspected and ready to fight for a long period of time. This was kind of an experiment to see if it could, in fact, be done and we did it."