The T-38 Talon is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer. It is used primarily in Air Education and Training Command for undergraduate pilot and pilot instructor training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Thurow)
AIR FORCE LINK Courtesy
by Wayne Crenshaw
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
10/20/2008 – ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS)
Members of the 573rd Commodities Maintenance Squadron here continue to put in long hours to make sure Air Force pilot training doesn’t come to a halt.
Many members of the squadron have been working 10-hour days, seven days a week to make a new aileron actuator lever for the T-38 Talon used to train pilots. A T-38 crashed in April, killing the instructor and student. A faulty aileron lever was declared a contributing factor in the crash. The problem threatened to ground all T-38s, but officials at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and at Air Force Materiel Command’s two other depots, Hill AFB, Utah, and Tinker AFB, Okla., took on the task of developing a replacement lever. While about 32 people have hands-on involvement in the lever work at Robins AFB, the importance of the work results in the squadron participating in weekly, worldwide conference calls to update progress of the work. Tommy Hunnicutt, deputy director of the 573rd CMMXS, said he expects the squadron personnel to boost their output to 75 levers per week, which would put completion of the contract at about Nov. 14. That would be well ahead of the original completion date of Dec. 26.
Mr. Hunnicutt said that initially Robins AFB was not in the repair picture. However, the other two depots had problems getting their prototypes approved for the item that requires precise, intricate milling. That raised concerns about how long the fix could take, Mr. Hunnicutt said, and that’s when the 573rd CMMXS got the call. After getting the contract July 30, squadron engineers got a prototype approved Aug. 25 with relative ease. Unit personnel are now producing 50 levers per week. The contract calls for the squadron to produce 250 left hand levers and 250 right hand levers. The levers control the ailerons, which are located on the rear of each wing and are used to control the aircraft during a turn.
Due to the age of the T-38, the original aluminum forgings used to make the levers are no longer available, which is why the parts had to be manufactured from scratch.
Air Force officials currently operate 546 T-38s, a twin-engine jet that serves as the primary trainer for Air Force pilots. It also has the same basic airframe as the F-5 Freedom Fighter, and Mr. Hunnicutt said the F-5 aileron levers also will be replaced.