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New part to improve old plane, save money along the way

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tori Schultz
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
For more than 50 years the KC-135 Stratotanker has been an integral part of the worldwide aerial refueling mission; and from time to time, the aging airframe needs minor touch-ups.

Recently, MacDill Air Force Base was selected as a pilot base for a new replacement part called the Improved Nose Wheel Snubber Brake.

The KC-135 uses a snubber brake system to eliminate noise and vibration when the nose landing gear is retracted.

Throughout the years, the brake arms have experienced fatigue cracks around the mounting holes due to the limited surface area needed for stress distribution. Subsequently, this part is typically replaced every seven years due to the deficiency and has cost the Air Force on average $350,000 in parts and labor every year.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/Legacy Tanker Division designed the Improved Nose Wheel Snubber Brake to address the deficiency by making the mounting portion of the spring arm thicker and wider.

To coincide with the replacement, the Air Mobility Command Test and Evaluation Squadron constructed a two phase logistics service test, which evaluates the operational effectiveness and suitability of the new brake.

The first phase, which occurred in August, consisted of Airmen from the 6th Maintenance Group installing one set of brake arms. Phase two will consist of normal aircraft operations with routine inspections for a period of six months to include no less than 50 sorties. At the end of the testing period, the improved brake arms will be removed and receive a thorough product quality inspection.

With the success of this part the Air Force could potentially save $330,000 a year, per aircraft and remove certain inspections entirely.