F-15E Strike Eagle engines tested for safety
By Senior Airman Heather Hayward, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 27, 2013
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- While many units have begun to see the effects of sequestration, the 366th Component Maintenance Squadron takes heed to the commander's priority of protecting and enhancing our resources.
With one fighter squadron deployed and another standing down from flying missions, many of the maintenance units have decided to use the time to complete elaborate training and team building exercises. The Engine Test Cell on the other hand continues to keep busy by repairing engines with parts currently in stock.
"Right now we still have work, but with sequestration, there are a lot of parts ordering constraints," said Staff Sgt. James Root, 366th CMS aerospace propulsion journeyman. "We have engines in the back shop that are ready to be fixed, but we can't get the parts to fix them."
It is as important to have a working engine in the jet as it is for aircrew members to remain proficient with systems and tactics knowledge once flying operations resume.
"We can't put an unserviceable engine in a jet," said Root. "When flying, there are a lot of training sorties, so if the engine isn't working correctly, that not only poses a safety risk, but it poses an operational risk as well."
In many ways, a jet engine is similar to the engine found in a car. It could be a potentially fatal and useless piece of equipment if not serviced properly.
"Our job is to make sure there are no leaks, everything runs well and we try to make it so the engines can stay in the jets for a couple years at a time," said Master Sgt. Chad Jacobsen, 366th CMS Engine Test Cell section chief. "We are the last line to make sure the engine is serviceable before it goes into the jet."
With parts being a finite resource, ensuring the mechanics know what they are doing and are properly trained is crucial.
"We run anywhere from 98-102 engines a year," said Jacobsen. "I overlook all the operations at the test cell and small gas sections and make sure all the training is up to date."
A run crew performs various tests from a simulated cockpit while a ground crew member makes sure there are no leaks and everything is running correctly.
"If we don't get the engines working to fly the jets, we can't complete the Air Force mission," Root said. "The last thing you want is to put a questionable or a broken engine into a jet, because there are human lives at stake."
Root has been at the base four years and comes highly recommended as a vital part to his unit and the mission, and is proud to be part of the test cell.
"You have to know how every system works under every situation and it's a lot of knowledge," said Root. "As an engine mechanic, the test cell is what sets you apart and is where you want to be."