On a routine maintenance day on February 13, 2016, aviation mechanist’s mates assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 were performing standard checks when they found an issue that left alone could have caused some serious damage to the aircraft.
For the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, the standard set forth by Naval Air Command is that the propellers must be checked every 200 hours.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, “Inspections are visual examinations and manual checks to determine the condition of an aircraft or component. Thorough and repeated inspections must be considered the backbone of a good maintenance program. The time spent in repairing an abused aircraft often totals far more than any time saved in hurrying through routine inspections and maintenance. These inspections sometimes reveal aircraft issues that the maintenance team then works together to solve.”
The issue found was an air baffle assembly, an important component that helps to cool down the engine.
“We discovered there was a crack so we worked with the airframers to fix it,” said Aviation Mechanist’s Mate 3rd Class Austin Pickett. “Most aircraft engines are air-cooled, this saves weight, coolant, complexity, more hoses and increases reliability. But air-cooled engines also have their own set of peculiarities. They need to be kept within certain temperature limits or else the cylinder heads may crack. With liquid cooled engines the temperature and air flow is much less of a problem.”
The team completed the task in less than an hour and after a final inspection from Quality Assurance, the safety and maintenance check department of the squadron, aircraft 562 was ready to fly another day.
To learn more about VP-9, check out www.vp9.navy.mil