JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flying 20 hours to the Far East to board a naval vessel and fix a $4.3 million dollar jet engine is not a typical way to spend a workweek.
Wes Quinlan, and a small team of engineers and logisticians from Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE), make these types of trips quite frequently.
Quinlan, an aerospace engineer specializing in the Super Hornet engine, is a member of FRCSE in-service support center’s F414 engine fleet support team (FST).
FSTs are small groups of experts who routinely deploy to the fleet collecting data, providing consultation and training, and performing on-the-spot troubleshooting and repair.
“We are responsible for the airworthiness and logistics support for the engine,” said Quinlan. “When a unit is experiencing issues with the F414 engine in the fleet, we fly out to offer assistance.”
Last month, Quinlan’s team travelled to Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan to provide training to aircraft maintainers and pilots.
“While we were there, maintainers were having a tough time getting a fan off one of their engines,” Quinlan recalled. “If they couldn’t remove it, they would need to have the engine sent back to FRCSE for repair. We worked with them to resolve the issue, saving both time and money.”
Induction of a new engine at FRCSE costs more than $1 million, according to Chris Langston, an aerospace engineer and member of the F414 engine FST.
“That was just one thing we were able to help with while we were there and that alone made the trip worth it,” he said.
Langston began working at FRCSE a little more than a year ago. He said being part of the FST is a great way to learn how pilots and fleet maintainers work with the engine.
“I came here right out of college. I wanted to get more hands-on knowledge and a better grasp of jet engines,” he said. “I am fortunate to be teamed up with someone who really cares about passing on knowledge and experience.”
Quinlan, a former Soldier and 14-year veteran at FRCSE, said everyone benefits from these visits to the fleet.
“These trips also provide a great opportunity for mentoring the newer personnel,” he said. “I am very passionate toward the fleet — it’s important to me to pass on that knowledge to someone who has the same passion for what we do.”
Although the team normally consists of several engineers and a logistician, sometimes it includes other specialized personnel.
FRCSE Engine Mechanic Tyrone Elliott augmented the team on a trip to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California where he used his depot-level expertise to provide repair capability on an engine.
“Being able to take my expertise to the fleet and help those folks was great,” said Elliott. “What I learned from the experience helped put things in perspective for me back at the depot.”
When not deployed, the team spends their days troubleshooting and repairing inducted engines and assisting fleet personnel via e-mail and phone calls.
“We keep the engines up and running, so the jets can fly and our warfighters can stay in the air,” said Langston. “What a great job.”
For more information, contact FRCSE Public Affairs at (904) 790-4749.