KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
On a warm sunny day, maintenance members from the engine shop watch the water mist out behind the engine of a C-130J Super Hercules during an Engine Compressor Wash.
What are they looking for?
“We watch the mist to see when it goes from a gray color to a light gray or white,” said Master Sgt. Donald Maloid, 403rd Maintenance Squadron propulsion technician. “This tells us that we got most of dirt out of the engine during an ECW, which helps during the inspection process.”
Every C-130J Super Hercules goes through three types of routine inspections, known as letter checks. The letter checks go by A, B and C, and they increase in degree of meticulousness as each one is performed and the checks are conducted in order.
The A-check is a basic post-flight operations inspection, while the B and C checks are more in-depth and require a longer inspection process. It is before these inspections that the aircraft is brought to the wash rack and the ECW is performed.
“Before we do the ECW, we complete a panel wash and engine wash,” said Maloid. “We remove the panels from the engine, and then we wash the panels and engines, which isn’t required.”
He said that this is an additional step that they included going “above and beyond” because it makes the job of the engine shop easier during inspections.
Other items that are checked during this process include checking the lines and valves of the auxillary power unit.
For Senior Airman Jake Koltas, 403rd MXS propulsion technician, who came from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, where he worked on the C-130H, said that as far as the engines go, the J model engine is completely different and easier to work on than the H model.
“The J model is kind of made for the ECW, you hook up the hoses to the engines and just go,” said Koltas. “While on the H model, we had to pop a panel and some lines off before doing the wash. It could sometimes take all day on the H model plus in Ohio it was cold especially if you got wet, but it takes less time on the J model.”
Maloid said that the process used to take all day on the J model, but a former propulsion technician created a wash cart that they use. The water and air hoses attach to the cart and to each engine, then the wash solution is pushed through through, forms an aerosol, and sprays out in a mist behind the engine, which makes the work easier and quicker, saving time and resources.
“After we complete our ECW, we came up with the idea of adding in a hard line spot during the dry out run,” said Maloid. “We do this because it is easier to do the operational checks to determine if the components are doing their job so they can be identified prior going in for inspection. This way we can work on it, knock it out and do the operational checks again on the back end.”
He said that this test helps identify any issues at the beginning, only takes about 10 minutes to complete, and helps save time in the long run.
“Ultimately, the entire process helps with the inspection, because it is easier to work on a clean engine versus a dirty one since dirt hides imperfections, cracks or leaks,” said Maloid.