Out with the old, in with the new

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Airmen are constantly updating aircraft such as the B-2 Spirit as the years go by to enhance or replace parts that are worn out.

Computer research engineers are one group of these Airmen working behind the scenes to bring to life new ideas that will improve the most feared weapon system on the planet.

Any aircraft parts or tools that are worn down, old or damaged are replaced using ideas aircraft personnel or customers present to research engineers, said 1st Lt. Andrew Klausner, 509th Maintenance Operations Squadron flight commander.

These engineers handle both the engineering and assembly sides of the job.

"Parts on an aircraft break or get old, so personnel will come to the office and submit ideas on how to improve the aircraft," said Klausner. "We supply drawings to support the concept of their idea and get it approved through the quality assurance office. Program offices submit their ideas and once we provide them a drawing, they can move forward in the process. Once they approve the drawings, we work off a program called computer-aided design (CAD) to virtually process and develop the idea into a result."

Once the virtual result is finished, research engineers produce a hard copy and supply it to the back shop, metals technology or sheet metal shop for manufacturing.

After the manufacturing process, the technology undergoes a fit check to ensure it is what the user's needs and prove it fits with the overall project, said Master Sgt. Michael White, 509th MOS B-2 CAD manager.

This process saves Whiteman money since customers do not have to request parts and tools from off-base businesses. The engineers draw, design and create parts that fit the customer's exact needs. If the requested part is obsolete, the engineers research items to help enhance the product.

"With the B-2 there are a lot of new ideas and new programs developing, and so they are looking to organically develop parts to meet the needs of the aircraft," said White. "For instance, the adaptable communications suite rack. Ten years ago, the ACS system was organically created by this office. It allows aircrews to send and receive encrypted data while en route to the theater. This program is always expanding with new ideas to meet mission needs. As new technology evolves, the rack technology also evolves."

Aside from providing engineering, research and development, research engineers sustain the ACS rack with parts funded from special program offices to get the assets they need.
Working with and assisting customers is an exciting experience because they are designing and bringing to life new ideas inspired by personnel involved with the B-2, said Klausner.