HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Providing top-notch, up to par engines is the game for the 49th Component Maintenance Squadron. They are the sole providers that keep Holloman’s F-16 Viper training pilots in the air and continuously achieving the Air Force mission.
“The test cell is responsible for ensuring the engines built in the back shop, are high-quality and efficient enough to put inside of an aircraft,” said Senior Airman Bradley Linsley, 49th CMS test cell technician.
The squadron’s mission transitioned from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, to Holloman in November of 2018. They are accomplishing the same mission, just in a different location; and also acting as the centralized repair facility – providing engines for both missions.
“Besides the testing, we also operate the hush house facilities on a 24-hour basis,” said. Master Sgt. Thomas Bebin, 49th CMS engine test stand section chief. “This allows Aircraft Maintenance Units across base to utilize the facilities during the quiet hours on base.”
With each engine test, the operation requires a team of three individuals. At a minimum, tests run for an hour-and-a-half, allowing the technicians to thoroughly look for any deficiencies.
“To operate engine testing, we need at least three people to do an engine run,” Linsley said. “One certified ground person, who’s on the floor, walking around the engine looking at every component and, ensuring that nothing is leaking. A certified operator, who is in the cab operating the engine and ensuring the engine is working. Finally, a recorder, also sitting in the cab, is responsible for jotting down numbers and anything else the operator request.”
On average, the shop inspects at least one engine on a weekly-basis. The hush houses they work out of ensure their mission is completed in a timely and effective manner.
The facility is designed to fit one engine or an entire F-16, if needed. The design of open airways and a tunnel, allows the facility to keep the noise in and closed-off from the open environment.
“That’s one thing about the hush house, it keeps everything in a controlled environment,” Linsley said. “If it’s windy outside and we’ve got dust blowing around, we don’t want that dust being sucked up into the intake. And, if it’s a week-long raining period we would just be sitting here twiddling our thumbs when we could be testing and continuing the mission.”
Without the help of the 49th CMS test cell, the 49th Wing would not be able to accomplish their mission of keeping pilots in the air or provide combat ready airpower across the force.