AEDC experiences record-breaking accelerated mission test

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. — A highly successful accelerated mission test of Pratt & Whitney’s F135 conventional take-off and landing/carrier variant engine was recently completed in the Sea Level 3 test cell (SL-3) at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex here.

A Total Accumulated Cycle count of 2,600, with record TAC accumulation of 80-90 per day, was accomplished during the AMT of this F135 engine, found in versions of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter used by the U.S. Air Force and Navy.

“One reason this test was significant is that it was the first 2,600 TAC Accelerated Mission Test on the F135 engine at AEDC,” said John Kelly, AEDC F135 test manager. “Previously these AMTs have been done at the Pratt & Whitney facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.”

Test results provided integrated aircraft thermal load simulation, as well as led to the re-activation of special test equipment for the F135 that hasn’t been used in several years.

Additionally, record test time efficiency of 98 percent was achieved for the test.

Testing was originally scheduled over a period of four months but wrapped up earlier than anticipated.

“The test occurred without any issues at all,” Kelly said. “Usually in any test you encounter issues that cause a delay. But with this test we beat our optimistic estimate for completion by a month.”

Crew members worked 24-hour operations, five days a week, occasionally even working around-the-clock six days a week. Coordination with test support activities occurred, allowing for the 24-hour coverage.

Record test pace was set while running concurrent operations at other AEDC facilities. Test cell SL-2 was testing the F119 engine for 16 to 18 hours per day, and the F101 engine was testing around-the-clock in test cell C-1.

AEDC skilled workers supported user maintenance during the test by providing oil sample collection, engine oil servicing, chip detector removal and inspection, and borescope plug removal and inspection.

“This is notable because in the past we haven’t been as involved in the maintenance side,” Kelly said.

Rapid project preparation, test cell conversion and engine installation was another factor that helped in completing the AMT within such a short time frame.

The F135 AMT was also a work share between AEDC and Pratt & Whitney teams.

Jeff Albro, the JSF Program Office test and evaluation manager for the F135 engine, stated that AEDC project managers and engineers ensured the customer’s requirements for the test were met.

“Everyone who comes to the test site with a company is on travel, and the less people that they need to have here is money saved for the customer,” he said. 

According to Albro, the test team tried new ways to meet schedule and come under budget, both of which it did successfully. He added that this project was one of the best he’s had the opportunity to be a part of, and as the customer, he was pleased.

“The test was spectacular,” he said. “We’ve never had an AMT come off without a hitch like this one did.”

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