MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan: The first KC-135R Stratotanker F108-100 engine delivered to the Air Force 26 years ago in the United States made its last flight March 1here.
When KC1-35R tanker engines were originally purchased from CFM International, it marked the first time in history military officials bought a commercial engine for its aircraft. Upon purchase, the engine model, CFM56-2B, was designated as the F108 model by the Air Force.
Like the other F108 models, the engine from McConnell Air Force Base will be refurbished and returned to service.
Before being removed, the engine was used March 1 in two refueling missions. While preparing the aircraft for a third refueling mission, Airmen from the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron noticed the blades on the engine’s turbo fan were unlatched at three positions around the rotor.
“With some difficulty, the blades were re-latched and an engine run was accomplished, after which the blades were observed to be un-latched again,” said Brad Mehlinger, a CFM International field service engineer. “This is not considered abnormal on engines with high operating hours.”
He said the maintainers attempted to latch the blades again, but weren’t successful.
“After two hours we determined that the engine required removal,” said Tech. Sgt. Jake Salinas, a 22nd AMXS engine mechanic.
During its 26-year career, the engine accumulated 13,409 hours of flight.
“This engine was hanging tough until this happened,” Mr. Mehlinger said. “Even after more than 26 years in service, this engine was not due for scheduled maintenance for another two or three years.”
The 8,000-pound engine was removed March 3, by four members of the 22nd AMXS. It took them 24 hours to remove the engine and wrap it before sending it to the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group at Tinker AFB, Okla.
Members of the 76th PMG workforce will disassemble, inspect, repair, re-assemble and perform diagnostic testing on the engine and its parts before it takes flight again, a process that can last approximately six to eight months.
“This engine was the first to be delivered to the Air Force in the United States, and it’s the last remaining original R model,” said Capt. Jacob Sullivan, the officer in charge of the 22nd AMXS Green Aircraft Maintenance Unit. “It was impressive that it ran this long without repair, but everything wears out eventually.”