Operations and Maintenance Manual Use
I enjoyed Mike Broderick’s column “Turbine Engine Hygiene” (R&WI, April 2017, page 28), especially his comment, “The operations and maintenance manuals are not being used as often as they should.”
Many years ago, I worked as a test engineer with experience in lab, field and flight testing. I assisted field engineers with systems with which they were not very familiar. When we visited a maintenance facility, we always asked to see its maintenance manuals. If the manuals were clean, it usually meant we had no problem. If they were ragged and dirty, typically we had a problem. In my final years working as a project engineer, all paper was being transferred to computers.
After retiring, I worked as a consultant powerplant and mechanical systems designated engineering representative (DER). When I requested a maintenance document, the technician/mechanic went to a computer and printed it out. I always wondered, if I were still in the field checking problems, how would I know if the personnel were using their maintenance documents?
From Mike Broderick: I don’t know for sure, as I don’t have empirical data other than an observation such as the one you cited. However, that being said, I base my comment on the troubleshooting questions I get when someone has an issue or the looks I see when I give a maintenance presentation, during which I would cite data from the ops and maintenance manual and see the quizzical looks on some of the faces of those wondering where I came up with the information.
Part of the problem is the computerization of our manuals. When I started, you could take the manual with you to the job or copy the pages and work from them. Also, when you needed to go from one section to another, it was easy to do so using a printed manual. Working with a computer (unless you have a tablet or similar device), it is tough to get the information to the job. Going from section to section with ease is out of the question. This lack of convenience for the technician causes a lot of “maintenance by memory” — not a good thing at any time.
In all my investigations, the leading maintenance item I find most often neglected is the rinsing/cleaning of the engine and airframe. Everyone thinks their area of operations is “not that corrosive,” and thus rinsing an engine after the last flight of the day is forsaken. Preventative maintenance, like engine rinsing each night, is one of the toughest activities to persuade folks to do. Therefore, just like the TV evangelist, I keep preaching my gospel of turbine engine hygiene whenever I get the chance.
Solutions for Military Training
Regarding your article on the role commercial companies are playing in reducing costs to military services of helicopter training (R&WI, April 2017, “Services Seek Training Options,” page 20), you highlight Qinetiq’s role in supporting the U.K. Ministry of Defence. Where a private solution could really help is the U.S. Navy’s helicopter training program. The Navy can’t afford to buy a replacement for its obsolescent TH-57s and refuses to go with a sensible private-sector solution — a turnkey comprehensive training program in which a private contractor would own the aircraft and provide training support. The U.S. Army and Air Force already rely on private companies for training fixed-wing pilots. The odd man out is the Chief of Naval Air Training.
Dr. Daniel Goure
Vice President, The Lexington Institute