High Tech War Fighter Downed (on the ramp) by Low Tech Wrench

Capngrog

Pre-takeoff checklist
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May 31, 2021
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Paisley, Florida
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Capngrog
No matter how sophisticated a system may be, there's always a way for the reality of the "Human Factor" to toss a spanner into the works:


I'd like to see an "after" picture of the wrench and the fan blades.

Doesn't the U.S. Navy have a strict tool accounting procedure when work is performed around aircraft?
 
Oh yes they do. And, they have strict checklist requirements for maintenance personnel that are turn-qualed. I'd say at the very least, 3 sailors are in deep, deep kimchi!
 
Yeah, someone is gonna get spanked. Hard.

The funniest one is that an E7 left a towbar attached to the helo nosegear. Of couse the pilots didn't notice and he stepped over it several times during engine starts and rotor turn. This was over 30 years ago.

They figured out something was wrong when they started to taxi.

Keep in mind that these towbars are 20' long, yellow, and big.

We called him Towbar and he hated it. I still call him that on FB when he posts.

Luckily, we never had any lost tool issues since we had a strict QA/QC inventory. Plus we worked and crewed them unlike other services.
 
So there I was…

Safe for solo check T-2C Buckeye, intermediate under slung twin engine straight wing jet.

It’s a mid fuselage wing, there’s an exterior panel under the wing that allows access to another panel to inspect the compressor section of the engine. Opened and readied by the plane captain, closed by the pilot.

About the time I was poking my head in the second side, my check pilot instructor musta asked me something… or I asked him something, who knows.

Button it up, get the nod for a good preflight, we start cinching up our harness straps prior to manning up.

I just happen to notice he’s missing the military flashlight that’s supposed to be on the front of his survival vest, and ask about it.

He gets red faced, runs to those aforementioned panels, opens them up and grabs his flash light! D’oh!

Thanks me profusely, no harm no foul… helluva learning point for both of us. Was a successful checkride!

He had staged it in there to see if I would find it. I didn’t. He forgot it…
 
So there I was…

Safe for solo check T-2C Buckeye, intermediate under slung twin engine straight wing jet.

It’s a mid fuselage wing, there’s an exterior panel under the wing that allows access to another panel to inspect the compressor section of the engine. Opened and readied by the plane captain, closed by the pilot.

About the time I was poking my head in the second side, my check pilot instructor musta asked me something… or I asked him something, who knows.

Button it up, get the nod for a good preflight, we start cinching up our harness straps prior to manning up.

I just happen to notice he’s missing the military flashlight that’s supposed to be on the front of his survival vest, and ask about it.

He gets red faced, runs to those aforementioned panels, opens them up and grabs his flash light! D’oh!

Thanks me profusely, no harm no foul… helluva learning point for both of us. Was a successful checkride!

He had staged it in there to see if I would find it. I didn’t. He forgot it…
Meridian or Kingsville?
 
Beeville! I’m old…. I later instructed in Meridian.
 
I initially thought the IA that worked on my airplane was anal/ocd about his tools. His ginormous tool chest had each drawer with foam cutouts for each tool. At the end of the day he would check to make sure every tool was back in its proper place.

I found out that he did that to make sure he didn't leave any tools in the the aircraft. A habit he picked up as an USAF mechanic. After the airplane was buttoned up, he'd also walk around the airplane thumping on the wing, fuselage, etc. to see if anything rattled (e.g., a misplaced wrench).
 
We downed a brand new F-16 at the plant one time for a lost screwdriver bit. We knew it had dropped in the cockpit, and the general area but after two days of tearing the cockpit apart and having more than a dozen people search it over that time, we finally had to resort to calling in the x-ray guys. Took 30 shots to find it, 15 minutes to retrieve it and 4 days to put the cockpit back together and another 3 days to do all the regression testing. The bit had managed to end up in the fold of an insulation pad, where it couldn't be seen or felt due to the location.
 
Unfortunately any tool control program is only as strong as its weakest link. And the fact they were using local “best practices” says a lot. More than likely there will be more than a few airmen that get hit on this. Regardless, tool control/FOD has been a huge discussion point on the maintenance side for decades and is moving down the food chain where a lot Part 135 ops have elaborate control policies. Even my old day job has gone to the next level by mandating the Snap-On Level 5 system which helps take out at least a part of the "weak links" in the control system.
 
We downed a brand new F-16 at the plant one time for a lost screwdriver bit. We knew it had dropped in the cockpit, and the general area but after two days of tearing the cockpit apart and having more than a dozen people search it over that time, we finally had to resort to calling in the x-ray guys. Took 30 shots to find it, 15 minutes to retrieve it and 4 days to put the cockpit back together and another 3 days to do all the regression testing. The bit had managed to end up in the fold of an insulation pad, where it couldn't be seen or felt due to the location.


Not surprising. BTDT. At LM-MFC we were downright anal about FOD control and for good reason. Shadow boxes, tool tethers, sponge counts, etc., etc.

FOD searches are even worse for a missile than for a plane, as missiles are designed to be disassembled with warheads, not tools, and many things are bonded, hardwired, potted, etc. Taking a JAGM apart after it’s been sealed is a royal PITA, especially when you hope to put it together again.
 
Most people would think that there was something in the water at work if they walked in on a FOD search on the hangar floor.....4-5 guys and gals laid out on the floor under the aircraft, with flashlights sweeping the concrete looking for that freakin aluminum AN960-3l washer one of the crew just dropped. :mad3:
 
During the JAGM tech development contract, we once had a missile return from PFCT vibe with a loose washer visible inside the polycarbonate dome on the nose.

Crap.

Now the dome is itself a pain to remove, being bonded and sealed, but having just the washer in the dome means that somewhere in the missile there's a loose bolt and a loose nut. Retrieve the washer, identify the part, check how many places that p/n is used, then start disassembling and go on a treasure hunt, trying not to inflict new damage along the way. A loose nut and bolt may also mean a process step was skipped, so once you find which nut was left loose you go review the corresponding assembly process. Then begin checking everything else in the before and after steps. And of course you review the assembly log, the quality tickets and rework tickets, interview the assembler, etc., etc.

Painful, but it's still better than conducting a failure review board after a flight failure when all the pieces that you can recover are charred and full of desert sand.
 
Instead of foam cutouts in the tool chest, I take a photo of all the tools and supplies laid out on the service cart before starting work. When done, I compare the cart to the before photo and make sure everything is accounted for.
 
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