Face of Defense
Face of Defense: George
Washington Sailors Keep Aircraft Flying
By Navy Seaman Matthew Riggs,
USS George Washington – (AFPS)
– June 12, 2014 – Aircraft maintainers serving aboard here help keep the
carrier’s planes mission ready.
Sailors aboard the U.S. Navy's
forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington fight a simulated fire
during a mass casualty drill on the ship's flight deck. George Washington and
its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that
protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the United States and
its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Apprentice
Oscar Albert Moreno Jr.
Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department 2nd Division
disassembles, repairs, rebuilds and tests specialized jet engines used by the
George Washington’s aircraft.
“We’re basically the ship’s engine repair shop,” said Navy
Seaman Jacob Lichty, from Waterloo, Iowa. “Our job is to ensure every jet engine
we receive is perfectly ready to go in every way possible.”
According to Lichty, the carrier’s Super Hornet aircraft use
two F414 jet engines and each engine is capable of producing more than 21,000
pounds of thrust. “We used to use the F404, but this newer iteration is much
more powerful, lighter, and generally much more efficient,” Lichty said.
The engines are split into several component parts called
modules. Each module is dedicated to a particular part of the engine’s function.
For example, the afterburner delivers more fuel into the engine, which boosts
the aircraft’s thrust by more than 50 percent.
“These engines have six different modules,” said Navy Seaman
Corbin Riley, from Akron, Ohio. “We rarely ever have to fix an entire engine; we
replace particular modules or install newer ones as necessary.”
According to Riley, the jet engine maintenance shop has a
time to repair or replenish schedule that allows each job to typically take less
than 32 working hours.
The amount of work the mechanics perform depends on how often
the air wing is flying. Engines only need to be serviced once they reach a state
called "high time." “High time is defined as more than 3,000 total hours of
use,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Dustin Ligtenburg, from Amboy, Illinois.
“To give an example of how long that is, I’ve worked here for two years and I
have never seen the same engine twice.”
Jet engines are incredibly sturdy but remain vulnerable. A
single foreign object getting inside an engine can damage or ruin it. “Although
we have enough space and personnel to work on two engines at once, we prefer to
only work on one at a time to keep us from mixing up parts or paperwork. Foreign
object damage is something we focus to avoid,” Ligtenburg said.
The jet engine shop performs intermediate level maintenance.
More extensive repair requires sending engines to shore facilities that are
better equipped to work on module assemblies. “We basically act as the quick
repair shop for the jets,” Ligtenburg said. “However, we can only do so much
with the equipment we have to maintain these engines.”
USS George Washington