HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — The F-16 Fighting Falcons at Holloman Air Force Base became the first F-16s in the Air Force to go through the aircraft purification process on Nov. 3.
Aircraft purification has been performed on other airframes, but this was the first time it was performed on F-16s.
“Aircraft purification is removing all of the moisture, air and particles out of the hydraulic fluid in the systems of the aircraft,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ian Hall, the 54th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron air ground equipment flight chief. “It’s important because it will increase system reliability on the aircraft, and it will greatly reduce the long-term maintenance costs.”
The 54th AMXS received the Air Force’s three hydraulic test stands that are equipped with onboard purification systems, making it more efficient overall.
“Previously, every time we had dirty fluid, we had to do a drain and flush,” Hall said. “That includes all of our AGE (aerospace ground equipment) as well. So, if our old hydraulic test stands were contaminated, we had to drain and flush the system three times and change the filters. Now, we can just run it through the new hydraulic test stand and purify our equipment. It’s the same for the jets — we cycle their fluid through the hydraulic test stand, and it’s as good as new.”
This eight-hour process saves the Air Force time and money, as well as environmental waste. Every time the hydraulic test stands are used, they save more than 200 gallons of fluid.
“In the big picture, you’d never have to do a drain and flush again,” Hall said. “As long as you’re hooking up that system when doing routine maintenance, it is still purifying that fluid.