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Teamwork puts F-15E back in the fight

by Maj. Holly Grant
335th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit

3/6/2008 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- Airmen here worked together, and with outside agencies, to turn an unforeseen setback around and quickly bring a combat asset back to the fight.

In late-January, Staff Sgt. Chris Petty, a 335th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit
electro-environmental specialist, was troubleshooting an issue with F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft 89-0492. His team discovered circuit breakers popped on the jet during operational checks. The problem, the wiring harness in the right main landing gear wheel well was damaged from chafing against a metal bulkhead.

"After further examination, Tech. Sgt. Dan Currie and I found a total of 57 broken or damaged wires," said Sergeant Petty. "Jeff Kerns, one of our engineers immediately realized the severity of the situation."

Mr. Kerns requested the depot engineers from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., construct a new harness for the technicians here to install.

"Jerry and Alan Byrd, two brothers who are engineers at the depot, went above and beyond," said Mr. Kerns. "They worked over the weekend to build the harness and ship it to us as soon as possible."

The wiring harness totaling 84 wires arrived, and 335th EAMU specialists immediately started to splice wires to rapidly return the aircraft to flying status in support of the wing's primary mission of expeditionary combat operations.

"The work was very detailed and intense," said Staff Sgt. Rob Townson. "The harness had a large number of wires to keep track of which made it especially challenging."

Sergeant Townson, along with Staff Sgt. Jason Cramer, and Sergeants Petty and Curie worked 19 hours over two shifts to install and perform continuity checks on all the wiring involved. From the day the damage was discovered to the successful operational checks totaled 13 days, with a good portion of that allocated to shipping the wire harness from the states to Bagram.

Prior to the wire damage, Aircraft 0492 had been grounded for nearly a month and had to undergo an operational check flight before returning to combat. Crew chiefs Staff Sgts. Aaron Leffel and Keith Chism replaced numerous aircraft parts, performed operational checks and reviewed more than 180 pages of aircraft forms and associated computer records to ensure every task was complete and correct. Tech. Sgt. Judd Camp and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Tonino from Quality Assurance inspected all the work and found zero defects.

The final stage was getting the F-15E airborne for an operational check. Senior Master Sgt. Dale Wright, the 335th EAMU lead production supervisor and Maj. Kevin Currie, a 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot, coordinated with the Combined Air Operations Center to get the aircraft up with two other F-15Es for mutual support.

Aircraft 0492 completed a successful Code 1 (no discrepancies) check flight under the control of Capt. Kevin Pritz, a 335 EFS pilot, and Capt. Bryan Simpson, the weapon systems officer.

"Without the extremely hard work of the maintainers that day, it would have been impossible for us to get the jet airborne," said Captain Pritz. "The jet was pretty hard broke after a wiring issue caused a myriad of problems. They fixed, prepped, and got the jet ready for us to check it out, and it flew with minimal problems thanks to their hard work."

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