Talon postflight inspection keeps the sky safe

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cody H. Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The T-38 Talon has a unique mission here as a companion; being the choice aircraft to train B-2 Spirit pilots and keep their hours current. Oddly enough, with its dart shaped design, the Talon is the aircraft with the most similar flight characteristics to the Spirit.
With their unique job, Talon's accrue flight hours quickly, and each new hour brings a higher risk of something going wrong with the aircraft. M1 Support Services here provide preventative maintenance to combat that risk and keep pilots safe.

An hourly postflight inspection is conducted every time a T-38 accrues 225 flight hours. Jim Sollars, M1 Support Services contractor with more than 25 years of experience, said the HPO inspection "keeps the aircraft running smoothly and increases the longevity and life cycle of the airframe" while also ensuring aircrew members have a safe and reliable aircraft to fly.

The HPO inspection consists of basic maintenance measures - lubing the aircraft's gears and flight controls; inspecting the main landing gear brake assemblies; replacing the nose gear landing wheel assembly; replacing the oil and filter in the airframe mounted gear boxes; checking the oil in the engine power packs; and inspecting the airframe for cracks and discrepancies.

All steps play an important role in maintaining the Talon fleet here, but inspecting the oil and airframe has the potential of preventing the largest mishap, according to Sollars.

"We inspect the oil for metal fragments," Sollars said, "If there are fragments, it is an indication that something is coming apart inside the gearbox assembly." Sollars added, it is important to check the oil thoroughly because a deteriorating gearbox could cause an inflight emergency and ground an aircraft.

As the inspection progresses, Sollars contacts a member of the 509th Maintenance Squadron non-destructive shop to perform their inspection on flight control surfaces and other critical inspection points.

Staff Sgt. Heather Carrick, 509th MXS NDI journeyman said, "Something as simple as a small crack in the airframe could lead to major damage or even the loss of an aircraft."

In addition to the scheduled maintenance that goes along with an HPO inspection, any other discrepancies identified during the inspection are repaired.

Sollars said the Talon is an old, but extremely reliable aircraft, and with the proper maintenance, the Talon remains to be a superior flyer.

Simple preventative maintenance conducted on a scheduled rotation goes a long way in ensuring the Talon's fly, keeping the aircrew safe and B-2 pilots trained for when the mission calls.