Members of the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Propulsion Flight have implemented a new process that reduces the propeller maintenance repair cycle time for the C-130 Hercules here.
“We are really excited about this process because the new two- and three-day flow processes we implemented have increased our (average time on wing) from 585 hours in September to more than 2,000 hours now,” said MSgt. Shawn Davis, the 379th Propulsion Centralized Repair Facility flight chief. “This means much less time on the ground and more aircraft in the air accomplishing the mission.”
This is a vast improvement from when this process took between four and five days.
The flight consists of 16 men and women from six different bases, both active duty and Guard.
“We produce approximately 225 C-130 propellers, which saves the Air Force more than $60 million in depot repair and transportation cost annually,” said Davis, who is here from the 461st Air Control Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
The first step in the maintenance stage is the acceptance area. This is where the propeller is received and the crew reviews the flight hours to determine which maintenance process it will undertake.
“I’m the first person to have eyes on the propeller,” said SrA. Joshua Smith, a 379th Propulsion CRF technician.
“I make sure we have all the necessary parts to build up the prop,” said Smith, who is here from the 19th Component Maintenance Squadron at Little Rock AFB, Ark. “I do a thorough inspection before we start the breakdown.”
Once the receiving inspection is completed, the crew begins the initial tear down process. The small parts are removed, inspected and repaired, if needed.
“We individually inspect about 12 different parts here,” said SrA. Anthony Gugino, a 379th Propulsion CRF technician. “If there are any repairs needed, like the front spinner or pump control assembly, we will make all those repairs in the shop.”
The propeller moves on to the post-test area where either operational-centered maintenance or reliability-centered maintenance is conducted.
If the propeller has less than 1,250 flight hours, operational-centered maintenance will be conducted to ensure everything is within limits and no blade leaks are found. This process generally takes two days to complete.
For propellers with more than 1,250 flight hours, the crew will perform reliability-centered maintenance. During this three-day process, the crew will split the hub and remove all four blades to inspect the area.
After completion of the post test, the crew begins the buildup process and installs all serviceable parts. The propeller is then test-cell prepared to ensure it is safe. The test cell process is designed to perform multiple functional checks to ensure there are no leaks and everything is operating as it should.
“The test cell is the most rewarding part of this whole process,” said A1C Nicholas Steffen, a 379th Propulsion CRF technician, originally assigned to the 355th Component Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. “We test all the parts to ensure the maintenance and repairs we did were done correctly. After a successful test, we know we are putting out a serviceable propeller to keep the C-130s in the air.”
When the test cell team finishes their leak and operation check, they perform a comprehensive final inspection. Once the propeller passes the inspection, it is wrapped for supply where it becomes a serviceable asset.
“Because of the success of this new process, we are working to incorporate this plan at all C-130 back shops to increase our mission capabilities,” said Davis.