Running full afterburner
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: June 24, 2016
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Many communities surrounding Kadena Air Base experience their share of F-15 Eagle engine noise, what some would call the sound of freedom, thankfully there is one area that quiets the powerful engine.
The 18th Component Maintenance Squadron’s one of a kind Engine Test Facility runs engines at full afterburner and surrounding neighbors never know.
The facility was built in the 90’s and was paid for by the Government of Japan in an effort to reduce noise pollution in the local community while maintaining the critical role being able to test and have engines ready at a moment’s notice.
“We made an agreement with Government of Japan to build this facility reducing noise to 65 decibels so we can run engines all through the night without disturbing anyone,” said Senior Airman Gerald Gangaway, 18th CMS aerospace propulsion journeyman. “This building is a lot like the hush houses on the flight line but it’s a lot quieter. It’s the only facility like this in the entire Air Force.”
This testing would normally create more than 140 decibels of sound without any aircraft even leaving the ground. The testing facility reduces the noise level to about 65 decibels, effectively reducing the noise of a jet engine to the level of a quiet conversation. Outside the soundproof structure, the sounds from these roaring engines are hardly detectable.
Operating inside the test facility enables the technicians to check for leaks and other malfunctions while repeatedly operating the engine at full power.
“We mostly run the F-15 Engine, even though we have the capabilities to run other engines as well,” said Gangaway. “We run them from idle to full afterburner over and over checking for leaks and other things while making sure that all of the parameters are good to go.”
Making sure the engines are functionally safe and ready for flight, before installing them into the aircraft, limits the noise experienced around the flight line to actual take-offs and landings, offering the families on Kadena AB and the surrounding community a good night's sleep.
"The test cell is where all engine troops strive to work," said Tech. Sgt. James White, 18th CMS test cell assistant NCO in charge. "We get sent the best of the best from our back shop, the guys who really strive to be successful at our job."
Being able to work in the Engine Test Facility and getting to see how what we do plays into the larger mission is very rewarding, added Gangaway.
"Every day is different, and it’s not the same old routine because each engine has its own personality," said Gangaway. "Any mistake we make could be detrimental in the loss of equipment, aircraft or even loss of life. We take a lot of pride in the product we put out.”