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By the book.

Our tale begins as a typical Friday night on Whidbey Island: cold, windy, dark and dreary. Patrol Squadron One maintenance was swamped as usual, and our discrepancy board was riddled with Zulu EOCs and red ink. The bulk of this ruin was entrusted into the hands of 110. To the uninitiated, 110 is the home of bloody knuckles and greasy palms.

Let me introduce the players: an overworked, rough-and-ready AD and an audacious AE. The latter found propeller contact rings not giving the proper resistance to ensure safe operation of the No. 1 de-ice system in flight. Power Plants was directed to remove the propeller. On deck, it was determined the mal-function originated in a bad front spinner, so the propeller needed to be reinstalled. As the installation of the No. 1 propeller was nearing its end, the AEs asked the ADs for assistance in removing the No. 3 spinner to further troubleshoot the No. 1 propeller de-ice problem. Happy to oblige, the ADs assisted in the removal of the No. 3 front spinner and the AEs placed the No. 1 front spinner on in its stead, thereby confirming the de-ice discrepancy was caused by the No. 1 spinner.

The AE's findings led to the No. 1 spinner being replaced. Once again those beautiful, negatively-charged electrons were able to leave their host atom for the next, and migrate from the contact ring to the front spinner and back ensuring the de-ice system was functional. As an AD, I call this magic; AEs call it a bad front. (All of this was done without an assist work order and was the first of many missed opportunities that would later lead to No. 3's front spinner departing the aircraft.) Both propellers were presumably reassembled properly with their appropriate parts and aircraft 761 was declared ready for turns.

Enter the protagonist. I present to you myself, AD2, CDI, night shift supervisor. My shift assumed our duties at 1430, while day shift stayed late to finish the propeller installation. We did the usual regimen of checking tools, maintenance meeting and reacquainting with NALCOMIS. Maintenance tasked us with two things: We shall have aircraft 761 in an up-status and we shall proudly serve our country's Navy combat team.

The day crew went home and my shift suited up for high-power engine turns. We had a quality brief by an AWF2 and Quality Assurance representative, and departed for the plane. The plane handler, taxi pilot and AWF2 performed a diligent screening of the ADB and walk-around of the aircraft. However, all three were oblivious to the troubleshooting that was preformed earlier because no work order was initiated for the removal and reinstallation of the No. 3 spinner.

As turns started, I listened to the AWF2 go through the usual start routine: air is good, button in, rotation indicated, fuel flow, light off, pressure rising in both sections, air is good, pumps in parallel, EDC light out, button out, light out, TIT 783--a normal start. At this point, all conditions were very normal. The plane handler guided us through a right turn and we rolled out to the high-power spot. The valve-housing beta cam on No. 1 was not aligned properly, so we shut down to make beta-scheduling adjustments. At that moment our Bluejacket of the Year, an AD3, made a startling discovery that caused all the aforementioned work to become questionable. The No. 3 front spinner was sitting on the deck. As rotation stopped, we ran to investigate.

The good news is that the propeller and aircraft were untouched. It seemed the spinner fell forward, perhaps as the engine shut down. The bad news is that the spinner was placed on, but not properly secured; the bolt on the retaining ring was not set to the proper torque and therefore not engaged.

The front spinner was ruined, turns were cancelled, Saturday's duty section had to work overtime to rectify the damage, and night check was awarded hours of overtime writing statements. The ugly news is that the plane could have been sent flying with a half-installed spinner, and the plane handler could have been on the receiving end of a Class A or B mishap as we made our turn to head out to the high power spot. There were no MAFs documenting the swapping of spinners, and the plane handler, turn operator, or taxi pilot did not detect the improperly installed spinner.

The damages were only monetary. The primary take away is the importance of documenting your maintenance, no matter what the perceived pressure to get the job done is. Operational tempo, manning, or personal pride are not excuses to neglect safety. Conduct maintenance in a "by the book" manner.

By AD2 Andrew Koch, VP-1
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Author:Koch, Andrew
Date:Jun 22, 2013
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