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Engine installation keeps turbines spinning

By Lance Cpl. Kris Daberkoe | | August 2, 2012

Resting behind a F/A-18 Hornet are two F414 engines capable of launching both pi­lot and aircraft airborne at a top speed of 1,320 miles per hour.

Marines with the power­line maintenance section of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 must install and remove the 44,000 pound jet engines to keepthe aviation asset operational.

Engine removal and instal­lation takes place before and after advanced engine repair, airframe alterations and regu­larly scheduled maintenance.

Powerline maintenance technicians are charged with looking over aircraft before and after takeoff, leading pilots onto runways and per­forming operational level maintenance on the fueling and propulsion systems of the aircraft.

“Our job is to make sure the aircraft fly as designed,” said Staff Sgt. James Nelson, the VMFA(AW)-533 powerline section staff noncommis­sioned officer in charge.

Marines maneuver the jet engine trailer underneath the aircraft and raise the engine until the various coupling devices are latched and the engine is secure.

“The engine doesn’t con­nect directly to the airframe but connects to the various components that allow the en­gine to work properly,” said Nelson. “The pilots trust their crew members to ensure they have a reliable aircraft to fly.”

The four major components that ensure the efficiency of the jet engines are the power transmission shaft, the main fuel inlet tube, the rack and pinion and the air pressure bleed regulator.

“The power transmission shaft is like the transmission in a truck,” said Cpl. Jeffery Flournoy, a VMFA(AW)-533 powerline maintenance tech­nician. “The engines act as the aircraft’s heart and are one of the most important parts of the aircraft.”

Using trailers, wrenches, levers and flashlights, these Marines ensure engines are installed properly and the squadron can complete any mission.

“We don’t know what the pilots may face in combat, so we work to ensure they have the best possible engine effi­ciently,” said Nelson.