J.E.T.S: Keeping the B-1 airborne
By Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 02, 2018
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Some people can agree that the U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer is a sight to see, both on the ground and in the sky. The ones keeping these aircraft’s engines roaring and mission ready are the Airmen in the back shop with sweat on their brow and grease on their hands as they work hard to keep them maintained.
Aerospace propulsion technicians are assigned to the 7th Component Maintenance Squadron with approximately 150 Airmen divided into four sections: jet engine intermediate maintenance, accessories, test cell and support. Collectively, they are known as the “engine back shop”.
These Airmen are responsible for ensuring engines are in operational conditions by repairing and maintaining the engines. They diagnose the engine’s mechanical issues, replace the flawed parts, and test run the repaired engine.
The JEIM section receives the engine then works to disassemble it while working mainly on the ‘core’ and internal sections as the other parts of the engine are sent to accessories. Then, the accessories section works condition-based maintenance (monitoring the actual condition of the part to decide what maintenance needs to be done) on parts such as the fans, low pressure turbines, exhaust, and augmenters. Finally, after the engine is repaired the test cell runs them to make sure they function properly.
The B-1B Lancer is powered by four (General Electric F101) engines. One engine has a dry weight of approximately 4,400 pounds with a length of 181 inches, a diameter of 55 inches and produces 17,390 pounds of thrust.
“The proudest moment for me is during the start of the shift supervision gives us a goal and by the end I realize how much work I’ve done,” said Airman 1st Class Cody O’Hara, 7th CMS aerospace propulsion journeyman. “It’s like a puzzle. I take all the pieces, put it back together and can say ‘I did that’.”
According to Master Sgt. Aaron Bonanni, 7th CMS F101 engine centralized repair facility superintendent, the back shop receives anywhere from 45 to 75 engines a year.
“In the back shop we have to keep on our toes when it comes to engines that are brought into the shop,” said O’Hara. “One moment we can be working on an engine and the next an engine with priority can come through.”
With the heart of the planes in their hands, these Airmen are essential to keeping Dyess’ B-1s mission capable.
“It goes without saying that we are critical to Dyess’ B-1 flying mission,” said Senior Airman Seth Fleming, 7th CMS aerospace propulsion journeyman. “We work on F101 engines from operational bases like Dyess and Ellsworth as well as F101s from Tinker, who managed the Air Force Sustainment Center. Because of this, I take pride knowing we really have a hand in supporting the larger Air Force mission”