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Aircraft engine specialists train Indian Air Force counterparts

Propulsion specialists, Tech. Sgt. Jarrod Plotner and staff Sgt. Ben Wibmerly, third and fourth from right, pose for a photo with engine maintainers for the Indian Air Force, beside a C-17 Globmaster, a recent addition to the IAF. Plotner and Wimberly helped train their Indian counterparts on C-17 engine maintenance procedures in October and November.

Propulsion specialists, Tech. Sgt. Jarrod Plotner and staff Sgt. Ben Wibmerly, third and fourth from right, pose for a photo with engine maintainers for the Indian Air Force, beside a C-17 Globmaster, a recent addition to the IAF. Plotner and Wimberly helped train their Indian counterparts on C-17 engine maintenance procedures in October and November.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Two 167th Airlift Wing maintainers recent spent nearly 30 days in India, to provide engine training to the Indian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III aircraft maintainers.

Tech. Sgt. Jarrod Plotner and Staff Sgt. Ben Wimberly, both aerospace propulsion specialists, worked with maintainers at Hindon Air Force Station, near New Delhi, home to the Indian Air Force’s fleet of ten C-17s.

Plotner, Wimberly and four other Guardsmen from the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson, Mississippi, instructed and certified 39 enlisted maintainers and seven officers on engine removal and installation while there.

The maintainers explained that they conducted a non-standard engine removal and installation to their Indian counterparts.

 “It was the first hot preservation of a spare motor on a wing since at least the mid-90s,” Plotner said.

Spare engines are preserved which requires special compounds to be put in the engine to prevent corrosion while it is in storage.

Typically, an engine is preserved for six months and a specialized team from Boeing travels to the engine’s location to conduct the preservation or re-preservation. This is also done while the engine is on a stand, not on the aircraft, Plotner explained.

“We removed a serviceable engine from their aircraft, installed a 720-day preserved engine that needed to be ran for operations checks and ran it through,” Wimberly said. “The ops check was good. Then we did an on-wing hot preservation of the spare motor again so it could be re-preserved for an additional 720 days. We then removed that engine and re-installed the original serviceable engine.” 

The team consulted with Boeing throughout the process.

The Indian Air Force, which began operating C-17s in 2013, requested the training because they intend to perform their own engine preservations in the future.

The C-17s are powered by Pratt and Whitney F117 turbofan engines that weigh about 10,000 pounds making engine removal and installation a painstaking process.

The engine removal and re-installation was the main training goal and took about two weeks to complete. The Guardsmen also demonstrated a fan duct change and helped the Indian airmen procure equipment they will need for future maintenance.

“They don’t have a whole lot of hours on their aircraft yet so they haven’t hit all of their engine maintenance milestones,” Plotner said.

Both Plotner and Wimberly were impressed by the Indian maintainer’s knowledge. 

“They don’t have a lot of hands-on experience yet, but they all know the books inside and out,” Plotner said.

Plotner and Wimberly agreed that the temporary duty was a great experience and they’d go back again if given the opportunity.

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