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14K problem, $20 solution
12th Flying Training Wing T-38C pilots and maintainers will begin using multi-function display, or MFD, covers later this month. The covers protect the glass MFD screens from the ankle restraints on the new ejection seats as well as all hazards during ground operations. They will save the wing approximately $182,000 a year in broken MFDs, all for only $3,600 – just a little more than a quarter of the price for a repaired MFD. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bekah Clark)
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$14K problem, $20 solution

Posted 9/3/2013   Updated 9/3/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Bekah Clark
12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


9/3/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- 12th Flying Training Wing T-38C pilots and maintainers will begin using multi-function display, or MFD, covers this month, saving the wing $182,000 a year in broken MFDs all for only $3,600 - just a little more than a quarter of the price for a repaired MFD.

When the 12th Maintenance Directorate replaced 13 multi-function displays to the tune of $14,000 a piece last year they knew there had to be a way to prevent the damage.

Through some collaboration, maintainers and pilots determined the MFDs were usually damaged by ankle restraints in the new ejection seats contacting the display's glass during pre-and post-flight operations.

Since the installation of the new ejection seats across the T-38C fleet is only 80 percent complete, the number of damaged MFDs is expected to climb even higher.

To solve the problem, T-38C maintainers and the 12th Operations Support Squadron's Aircrew Flight Equipment Survival Office locally designed, manufactured, and tested protective covers for the glass screen on the MFDs for use while the aircraft is on the ground.

Ross Mills, T-38 production supervisor, came up with the idea for the covers.

"We used to use metal covers to protect displays while a T-38 was in for phase and heavy maintenance," said Mills. "Metal wasn't going to work for daily use so I knew we had to use fabric. We went through four different designs before we found one that worked best."

The covers are sewn together by a team of three AFE Survival technicians working as an assembly line, using industrial foam and the same fabric used for convertible car tops.

"The fabric was selected because of its durability," said John Pintirsch, AFE Survival supervisor. "It will fade less in the sun and it won't stretch out with repeated daily use."

Howard Sharrott pieces the sides together, making sure to create the Velcro openings and closures. After Gene Lott stitches the sides to the front panel of the cover, David Amaya takes full exterior of the cover and sews in the foam and the "Remove Before Flight" tag.

From start to finish each cover takes about 45 minutes and less than $20, including labor and materials, to make. The team is nearing the completion of 180 covers, one for each of the two screens in the 90 T-38s assigned to the 12th FTW.

The covers protect the glass MFD screens from the ankle restraints on the new ejection seats as well as all hazards during ground operations. They are taken off for flight and look similar to a cover for a computer tablet.

In addition to helping the wing avoid future repair costs, the covers will help keep the flying training timeline in the green.

"Every time an MFD's glass is broken, that's one less jet we have for flying operations," said Mills. "It takes an hour to replace if we have a screen on hand, if we don't it could be up to two days to get a replacement MFD installed and the jet back on the line."



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