New Jersey National Guard aircraft electricians fix rare wire short

  • Published
  • By Donna Jeffries
  • 108th Wing

Surpassing a challenge is a great feeling and July 8, 2021, seven electro and environmental specialists from the 108th Maintenance Squadron laid claim to that emotion by successfully accomplishing a first-ever task.

A hundred and eighty-one hours after starting, the New Jersey Air National Guardsmen performed a wire harness replacement on the left side of a KC-135R Stratotanker and repaired subsequent maintenance challenges.

It took seven days to fix the original “harness” write-up, which included removing the old harness and installing the new harness. It then took about seven more days to fix the “number one generator not coming on line” issue said Ricardo, 108th MXS electro and environmental shop chief.

The replacement was necessary due to a short found in the wire.

“None of the wires in our jets have shorted before,” said Maj. Dominoe Strong, 108th MXS, commander.

The number one, two, and three engines have integrated drive generators that together provide all the electrical power for the aircraft to operate. The short resulted in the aircraft experiencing an IDG failure.

“In maintenance’s terms if you have an IDG failure the aircraft can’t fly until it’s fixed, that’s referred to as a grounding condition, said Chief Master Sgt. Edward Heacook, 108th Maintenance Group quality assurance superintendent.

The job involved replacing a wire extending from the number one engine through the wing and cargo bay up into the flight deck of the tanker. The maintainers also replaced 60 clamps and 120 string ties as part of the fix.

It’s quite rare to replace such a lengthy wire, said Heacook. As with all aircraft maintenance, the task was accomplished according to established technical orders (guidance).

“It was really impressive what these guys have had to do,” said 1st Lt. James Testa, maintenance officer with the 108th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “Using the TOs and wire schematic on the IPad to see the wire path and location of box stations, they then had to do detective work to find the actual wire which could be in a bundle containing up to 50 wires.”

The work was split between two crews working 12-hour shifts each to manage the job. The harness work was completed during the 12-hour day shift while the night shift worked toward completing the isochronal inspection and maintenance. The maintainers were also responsible for ordering any parts needed, researching work and documenting all their actions in the aircraft forms binder as part of its permanent record. 

“The most challenging thing was the tight spaces we had to work in and the things we had to work around said Airman 1st Class John Webb, 108th MXS, E&E specialist.

In the end, the Guardsmen’s diligence proved successful and has ensured the number one engine’s IDG can continue to provide its portion of power to the aircraft’s electrical system.  The aircraft was flown successfully post-fix on July 8.