Getting to the Core of F135 Assembly
Story and Photos by Barbara Bresnahan
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. | Thursday, August 29, 2013
Pratt & Whitney Communications took a trip to Middletown, Conn., to shadow two Pratt & Whitney Assembly Technicians, Brian Plesz and Alan Hussey, for a closer look at what it’s really like to work on an F135 engine. The pair worked on F135 engine, specifically assembling the core of the engine. A varied assembly sequence engages the technicians’ experience and interest as they work on anything from tubes, to bearing compartments to stators.
Plesz has been with Pratt & Whitney for almost 8 years and noted that the process has come a long way in a short amount of time. Hussey, who has been with Pratt & Whitney for 39 years said, “It is really awesome to be given the privilege to work with this engine line. It is one of the most technologically advanced engines in the world.”
7:45 a.m. – The technicians, Brian and Alan, arrive and check the computer at their workstation for instructions on their required tasks. They determine that they will be working on the core of the engine. Each work module is broken down by sequence and they will start with sequence 10 which requires the installation of a buffer air tube.
8:00 a.m. – Once the installation is complete, Brian swipes his Pratt & Whitney badge at the computer to acknowledge that the work has been completed. Alan and Brian now move on to sequence 11 to install the number two support.
8:10 a.m. – The technicians gather the kit necessary for the next installation. All parts come in a kit wrapped in plastic that has separate compartments to hold each part. Each kit holds exactly the right type and number of parts. After opening the kit, the technicians verify the kit contents and proceed to assemble the washers and bolts together. Next, they turn on a light above the workstation to signal for an inspector to review the prep work.
8:20 a.m. – The inspector approves the work and allows Brian and Alan to continue to the next step.
8:22 a.m. – Brian picks up the necessary part (an installation part that will eventually be removed) off of a cart at his work station and scans a barcode to record the serial number on the part they are preparing to install.
8:25 a.m. – Before this piece can be installed, a heater is added to the top of the engine to expand the hole it will fit into. The tooling and heaters, identified in the work instructions, are located nearby the engine to ensure that the technicians are able to move quickly and efficiently between tasks.
8:45 a.m. – The component is now heated and expanded and the mating part is inserted. Brian and Alan torque the installed part, standing 180° from each other at all times to ensure the inner and outer diameters remain even.
8:55 a.m. – Alan continues to torque the part while Brian secures it. Once completed, they measure the installed part on the engine to verify it is seated.
9:30 a.m. – Upon returning from a short break, Brian and Alan turn the light on again to signal for the inspector.
9:45 a.m. – The inspector arrives and provides approval to continue with the job.
10:00 a.m. – Once the sequence is complete, the inspector provides final approval. Brian enters data from this sequence into the computer to record that the job is complete.
10:15 a.m. – Moving onto sequence 13, the technicians use another heater on a different part of the engine and wait until it reaches optimum temperature. This will help with the installation of a carbon seal.
10:45 a.m. – The carbon seal has been installed and after the inspector is signaled, it is checked and approved.
10:50 a.m. – All external crevices that are open and lead to the bearing area are capped off. Brian and Alan check the core of the engine and verify that the second and third compartments are sealed well.
11:15 a.m. – Dry ice is put on the compressor stator to cool it off before it is inserted into the engine.
11:25 a.m. – Now cool enough, the compressor stator is installed and secured to the engine using nuts and an air gun.
11:30 a.m. – After a productive morning, Brian and Alan clean up their workstation and break for lunch. They take pride in their work on the engine especially knowing that a pilot will rely on their expertise to deliver a dependable engine.
This document has been publically released. The story has been approved for public release by the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and through the Pratt & Whitney 3702 clearance for release process. The JPO approval code is JSF13-897.