UK maintainers attend 373 TRS Det 3 C-17 engine change class

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Four Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster maintainers from the 99 Squadron RAF Brize Norton, United Kingdom completed the C-17 engine change procedures class Feb. 16, 2022, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

The British C-17 maintainers came to the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 3 to attend the 64-hour class to learn proper removal and installation of the Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engine.

Students accomplished maintenance stand set up, safe and proper operation of the engine lift trailer pendant, as well as engine removal and installation using a C-17 engine trainer located at the detachment.

“With C-5M and C-17 aircraft assigned here at Dover AFB, this is one of those core classes that they need to attend,” said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Rogers, 373rd TRS, Det 3 C-17 propulsion instructor. “It’s a very complex and dangerous task, a lot of stuff can get broken or people can get hurt. It’s very necessary for young Airmen and even noncommissioned officers to come through and learn the correct way and safe way to do this task.”

The engine lift trailer pendant operator is in charge of the entire engine change operation.

“For us, we believe the initial set up of the ELT is the most crucial component for a smooth engine change,” said RAF Cpl. Ben Archer. “That was the most critical aspect we learned and believe spending more time to set the trailer up, is key to a successful operation in its entirety.”

RAF Sgt. David Stephen, a C-17 maintainer with 16 years of experience, said he’s done approximately 20 engine changes, and valued the learning experience from the propulsion instructors at the 373rd TRS.

“We learned a lot from Sergeant Rogers,” said Stephen. “He taught us little things from his experience that would make an engine change much smoother.”

RAF maintainers are designated either as mechanical or electrical. The RAF uses four to five multi-capable mechanical maintainers required for a C-17 engine change. Mechanical maintainers work on engine, hydraulic and fuel systems, flight controls and airframe.

While stationed at JB Charleston, Rogers spent 10 years on their C-17 Home Station Check team gaining engine change knowledge and experience where engine changes averaged between eight to 12 hours and cost approximately $10 million.

Initial set up and alignment of the engine stand is the most critical part of an engine change.

“If you position the engine trailer just perfect, using plumb bobs or lasers to center it perfectly [in the lowered position], it will give you much more room to play once you are elevated in the air,” said Master Sgt. William Robbins, 373rd TRS, Det 3 C-17 propulsion instructor and section chief. “If you are off an inch here or there [at the bottom], it could be six inches at the top once the stand is raised.”

Besides getting a good alignment on the engine stand, good communication between all engine change team members is critical for a smooth and successful engine change.

For Rogers, hearing the different British dialects of each student, and understanding terminology of certain tools used for engine changes, was the only noticeable difference between the instructors and students.

“I asked a British maintainer to grab a wrench and he came back with a socket and rachet,” said Rogers. “A wrench to us is the same as a spanner to them.”

On their last day in class, the Brits were asked about their opinion of the C-17.

“NBOK [Nice Bit of Kit],” replied Archer. “It’s a British famous acronym we place on the C-17 because it is a very reliable work horse. It is written in certain areas all over the aircraft.”