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Whistleblower raises concerns about maintenance

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posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 02:03 PM
I stumbled across this today. It's an article from the end of 2008, talking about the maintenance practices on the RC-135 fleet. The fleet has had an outstanding safety record to date, but if this whistleblower is right there are some insane chances being taken with the lives of the flight crews.

George Sarris is a senior civilian maintenance technician at Offut Air Force Base, home of the RC-135 fleet. Air Force officials have maintained that maintenance of the fleet has been outstanding, and they are properly maintained. Mr. Sarris disagrees. According to Mr. Sarris, they have found inspections that were SEVENTEEN YEARS past due, hydraulic and fuel hoses that should have been changed FIFTEEN YEARS PRIOR and several emergency lines that were THIRTY YEARS PLUS past time change. He also said that he thinks at least one landing gear assembly was installed incorrectly.

The Air Force continues to maintain that the fleet is being maintained properly,but Mr. Sarris states that the only way he could get changes made, and some of these systems changed was by going public to anyone that would listen.

Recently an aircraft on an Open Skies mission had a thrust reverser on one engine deploy in flight. Records showed that it was "incorrectly blocked out".

Col. Terry Parsons, commander of the Maintenance Group at Offut insists that maintenance is being done properly, and points out that they have consistently received awards from the Air Force for having no maintenance mistakes. An anonymous survey performed would disagree with both the Air Force and Col. Parsons. Almost 2/3rds of the 300 military maintenance workers at the base said low morale was a problem.

Four civilian workers who wanted to remain anonymous backed up Mr. Sarris, and said he's a by the book worker, and the military wanted to take shortcuts.

This is a scary article. We're asking these crews to go into harms way to find AAA/SAM sites, radars, and even troops on the ground, and giving them horribly maintained aircraft to do it in. Two independent contractors went over maintenance records for some of the RC-135s and back up Mr. Sarris' claims. They found evidence of corrosion, fuel leaks, high pressure bottle leaks, among other problems. Actual Safety Of Flight problems, not just minor maintenance issues.

Read all four pages of the article, and see just how bad things are with the RC-135 fleet. We keep asking these crews to do this mission and sooner or later, we're going to start losing them, and god only knows how many we'll end up losing before something is done about this. I remember seeing maintenance issues come through that were signed off as "CND" (Could Not Duplicate), it makes me wonder just how hard they really looked for the problem now.

posted on Apr, 11 2009 @ 03:50 PM
I have a friend who used to be an aircraft mechanic for a government-run flight school and his stories aren't too different. After several years petitioning higher up's to take notice, out of fear that they were going to kill someone, he quit after the second or third FAA investigation resulted in little to no action. In his mind it was the only way to protest what he saw as gross and dangerous incompetence.

Bureaucratic ineptitude, egotism & CYA-syndrome knows no bounds.

[edit on 11-4-2009 by Xtraeme]

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