Propulsion flight provides thrust to region’s air power

  • Published
  • By Maj. Rudy Cardona
  • 4th Component Maintenance Squadron commander
Lean. Lethal. Expeditionary. 

These are just a few traits our Air Force charges us to live by in our Airman culture.
Aircraft maintenance is at the tip of the sword and requires the most timely, economical and flawless actions to ensure our aircraft are fully mission capable. Regionalizing intermediate-level aircraft maintenance is something that is becoming more familiar in the Air Force as we maximize the use of our limited resources.
The regionalization strategy capitalizes on the synergy brought forth by a leaner, better-equipped force of well-trained personnel, while reducing costs.
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base has the honor of being one of only five F100 engine-producing bases in the United States. The F100 series engine is typical of those used in fighter aircraft such as the F-15 and F-16. The centralized intermediate repair facility operation here has begun. We have already converted two F-16 engines into F-15C engines this past month.
The new facility, part of the 4th Component Maintenance Squadron, will produce 192 engines annually to support a fleet of five F-15 fighter squadrons, to include those here and one at Langley AFB,Va. The facility will also service the aircraft engines that deploy from here and Langley.
Preparing for this operation to take place has been months in the planning. Critical manning levels have been scrutinized and facility and heavy equipment-placement studies have taken place to sharpen ergonomic advantages. Discussions on a multitude of topics between Air Combat Command, the 1st Fighter Wing and the 4th Fighter Wing have been on-going as we finalize formal agreements. Much needed modernization efforts have also enabled the realization that a new era of engine production is about to begin.
This month, paint and epoxy were applied to 38,000 square feet of building space, which is just less than one acre of land. The floor was last painted in 2000 via a self-help project after Hurricane Floyd. All of the interior walls were also painted via self-help, and approximately 100 tons of equipment was moved out of the main propulsion flight building and moved back inside once the floor was complete. It was the equivalent of just over six C-130 aircraft payloads worth of equipment.
During this six-week effort, propulsion flight Airmen had to work in five separate facilities to build safe aircraft engines. In aircraft maintenance, there isn't room for error and our technicians never compromise safety. During this building preparation time, not one safety incident or maintenance mishap occurred, which is a testimony to the technicians' attention-to-detail, direct supervisor involvement and true leadership at every level.
Under the roof of the propulsion flight main building, critical maintenance activity functions around the clock. This well-oiled machine is run by 138 people who include not only propulsion flight personnel, but also personnel from the 4th Maintenance Operations Squadron, Pratt and Whitney contractors and the Air Force Engineering and Technical Service.
Although the new facility has had much support from wing and major-command leadership, the journey is just beginning. We have started to see increased funding to continuously improve these facilities. Our propulsion flight is composed of outstanding people who produce safe, reliable engines to our combat-ready aircraft fleet. Our work area transformation will provide these warriors with a world-class facility with state-of-the art equipment.
Maintenance personnel are a humble breed, but when 50,000 pounds of thrust is heard overhead, a maintainer's chest can't help but fill with pride. A direct enabler of lethal airpower, the propulsion team provides combatant commanders' weapon of choice, the F-15E, its speed to engage and defeat our adversaries. Our journey has begun in re-generating and sustaining F-15 aircraft more efficiently. And the winning team is already in place.