Maintainers are known for constantly fixing and improving aircraft parts to ensure their functionality and ultimately the safety of pilots along with everyone involved with the airframe.
The 355th Component Maintenance Squadron Test Cell Shop at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., is responsible for testing rebuilt T-34 engines for the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and T-56 engines for the EC-130H Compass Calls to ensure that all parts were correctly replaced and that they are properly functioning.
“Once we do a complete overhaul or rebuild of an engine, test cell allows us to ensure that it is safe for aircraft use,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Pope, 355th CMS test cell non-commissioned officer in charge. “These tests we do allow us to fine tune anything we may find to ensure that when we give the engine back to the guys on the flight line, that it is running at 100 percent to complete the mission.”
A series of tests are conducted including running the engines at different power levels to ensure that no issues arise as the engine functions. Airmen from the test cell inspect the engine before, during and after these tests to check for these issues.
“This job requires a lot of focus and attention to detail,” said Airman 1st Class William Harris, 355th CMS aerospace propulsion journeyman. “If even one person isn’t paying attention and we miss something, it puts people at risk.”
The mission of the test cell is simple but crucial – ensure that engines are ready to go.
“We provide those war-ready engines to make sure the wing’s mission is completely functional,” said Harris. “We make sure those aircraft can stay ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
The mission of the A-10 is close air ground support and the EC-130’s mission is electronic warfare. These operations are critical to the overall objective of the Air Force and constantly prove invaluable to mission sets downrange.
The 355th CMS Test Cell Shop, the busiest test cell shop in Air Combat Command, ensures these aircraft stay ready to complete their mission and can effectively respond to and deter any potential threat or adversary that we may face.