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Depot maintenance efforts continue to keep T-38s flying

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 573rd Commodities Maintenance Squadron here continue to put in long hours to make sure Air Force pilot training doesn't come to a halt.

Many members of the squadron have been working 10-hour days, seven days a week to make a new aileron actuator lever for the T-38 Talon used to train pilots. A faulty aileron lever was declared a contributing factor in the April crash of a T-38 at Columbus AFB, Miss., which took the lives of a student pilot and his instructor.

The aileron problem threatened to ground all T-38s, but officials at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and at Air Force Materiel Command's two other depots, Hill AFB, Utah, and Tinker AFB, Okla., took on the task of developing a replacement lever.

While about 32 people have hands-on involvement in the lever work at Robins AFB, the importance of the work results in the squadron participating in weekly, worldwide conference calls to update progress of the work. Tommy Hunnicutt, deputy director of the 573rd CMMXS, said he expects the squadron personnel to boost their output to 75 levers per week, which would put completion of the contract at about Nov. 14. That would be well ahead of the original estimated completion date of Dec. 26.

After getting the contract July 30, squadron engineers got a prototype approved Aug. 25. Unit personnel are now producing 50 levers per week. The contract calls for the squadron to produce 250 left hand levers and 250 right hand levers. The levers control the ailerons, which are located on the rear of each wing and are used to control the aircraft during a turn.

Due to the age of the T-38, the original aluminum forgings used to make the levers are no longer available, which is why the parts had to be manufactured from scratch.

Air Force officials currently operate 546 T-38s, a twin-engine jet that serves as the primary trainer for Air Force pilots.
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