Engines: managing the maintenance

By Airman 1st Class Micaiah Anthony 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Like any engine, aircraft engines need maintenance, but the Air Force does more than just maintain engines, it has dedicated units to manage and monitor their aircraft's engines to ensure they are mission ready.

Airmen from the 2nd Maintenance Squadron Engine Management Office play a key role in supporting the mission by ensuring the B-52H Stratofortress has functioning engines ready to go at all times. With each B-52 having eight engines, it can be a lot to manage.

"In the beginning, the job is stressful but once you learn the system and what you have to look for, it isn't as time consuming," said Senior Airman Latacia Hart, 2 MXS engine management scheduler.

Engine management Airmen spend their time monitoring and inspecting engines to ensure they do not break down.

According to Hart, every 6,000 hours engines must have a high section inspection as a form of preventative maintenance. For HSI inspections and internal maintenance, the engines must be shipped out to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

"Tinker is the only place our engines can go," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Crane, 2 MXS assistant engine manager. "Any engine maintenance that is considered major and is not a general component change is something we are going to ship out."

Engine management Airmen use the comprehensive engine training and diagnostics system along with in-flight data sheets to monitor up to the last 10 flights to help schedule any preventive or required engine maintenance.

"All of the engine's parameters from flight I record and track in CETDS," said Tech. Sgt. William Cheese, 2 MXS engine trends and diagnostics monitor. "The computer tracks what the parameters should have been and shows how far off they were. If something is off, I can look at all of the in-flight data sheets and create jobs for the maintainers to trouble shoot."

Other monitoring systems used are the integrated management system and the comprehensive engine management system. These systems keep track of the engines and maintenance performed on them.

According to Crane, in CEMS engine management Airmen are capable of seeing how many engines are available, when the last time they were inspected, and what kind of maintenance was done on them both here and at Tinker. IMDS is similar to CEMS but is primarily used by engine maintenance Airmen to keep track of all the maintenance done at Barksdale.

"We mainly use CEMS to monitor the engines and input data and then we take the information from CEMS and transfer it to IMDS," said Crane. "We do this for the maintainers so they can keep track of all the scheduled maintenance here."

The engine's information is switched between the two systems to keep both maintenance professionals in the know.

"Once the engine physically leaves Barksdale, we have to delete it out of IMDS and transfer it into CEMS," said Hart. "We make sure both sides match."

With engines coming and going, engine management Airmen ensure there are enough spares to support the mission.

"We have to make sure we have enough spares on our line in case flightline maintenance or phase needs an engine," said Hart. "We support them with spares so the aircraft can fly."

According to Hart, in the past, phase Airmen worked on the engines and managed the paperwork for the engines, which caused them to do more work.

"Instead of a week turnover it was a longer process," she said. "We make the process easier to free up the phase side so they can focus on maintaining the engines."

According to Cheese, in the last quarter engine management Airmen changed 13 engines, more than half of what they changed for the entire year in 2011.

With more than 227 B-52 engines on Barksdale, engine management Airmen provide a valuable service to the B-52 and its aircrews. Without the constant monitoring and inspections, the aircraft and its Airmen wouldn't be as safe or reliable.