AEDC Turbines team shows its dedication to meeting customer’s testing needs

Air Force photograph

AEDC test teams were conducting testing on the Rolls-Royce engine pictured here when facility crews at Arnold Air Force Base determined plant equipment needed to be replaced. The equipment was replaced quickly and the Rolls-Royce test was successfully completed prior to a scheduled maintenance outage for the engine test facilities at Arnold.

AEDC craftsmen and engineers recently demonstrated their skill and dedication to overcome several obstacles when completing a recent series of turbine engine tests in the Engine Test Facility, or ETF.

Maj. Mike Knauf, operations officer of the Aeropropulsion Combined Test Force, explained that a busy test schedule was planned for early summer, with several customers needing to test prior to the scheduled outage for the turbines test facilities at Arnold.

“We had several turbine engine test customers needing to meet critical milestones this summer, but we also had much of our facility machinery that was scheduled for repair by outside contractors,” Knauf said. “This resulted in a busy test schedule with little room to spare before our maintenance downtime.”

Even though the time between tests was limited, the facility crews continued their maintenance requirements, which included inspecting machinery between each test period. During one of these inspections, deficiencies in some equipment was identified.

Jimmy Steele, Aeropropulsion asset manager for the Air Force, said, “Inspections of the machinery revealed the pending failure of equipment that could damage the test engine. These flaws in the machinery were small and required special techniques to detect. The inspection crew demonstrated diligence to find the flaws and prevented a larger issue.”

The machinery was removed from service, but doing this also prevented the ability to test at colder conditions.

AEDC test teams were conducting engine testing of a Rolls-Royce engine when the plant machinery was removed from service. Realizing the importance of the data to a longtime test customer, the team developed a schedule to have the machinery removed and replaced quickly in order to still provide the data at the desired conditions.

“We had to work closely with the test customer to re-arrange their test points within the overall test plan in order to efficiently conduct testing with the plant machinery that was available,” said Scott Slabaugh, ETF test engineer.

After expediting the delivery of the new machinery, Julius Lockett, senior mechanical engineer, oversaw the installation.

AEDC outside machinists and boilermakers perform maintenance on the C-Plant Turbine Chiller 3, or TC3, in February of 2018, in support of the engine test facilities at Arnold Air Force Base. Similar equipment was replaced after an inspection determined some deficiencies. The equipment was replaced before the annual maintenance outage for the Aeropropulsion Combined Test Force and within just enough time to complete a customer test.

“The men and women of ETF rallied together to avoid a potential catastrophic failure and returned the equipment to service,” Lockett said. “Special recognition should go to the craft supervisors, outside machinists and boilermakers who put in the hard work required to accomplish our goals earlier than expected.”

After repairing the equipment, there was just two weeks scheduled to complete the testing required at the cold conditions.

Slabaugh added, “Once the plant machinery was returned to service, we really stepped up our game and tested four times in 11 days with extended testing hours to get our customer the data they needed before the summer maintenance period started.”

Chris LaGrange, test operations engineer, said, “I really think this program demonstrated how AEDC’s test teams of craft personnel, test engineering, data analysis, supervision, and test operations can go above and beyond to meet tight schedules when the need arises.”

Yancee Burchett, Air Force test engineer, applauded the efforts of the plant crew and the test team and their cooperation in getting the work done quickly and efficiently.

“Considering the vast number of factors constraining the test, the team showed an extraordinary amount of determination in acquiring the necessary data and test points for the customer,” Burchett said. “Whether faced with the demanding pace of summer ops or troublesome equipment, the team remained steadfast in their determination to ensure that the Rolls Royce test was a success. It was an honor to be a part of such an outstanding team.”