Military Latency

QXDX

Well-Known Member
This morning there is a C-17 sitting out on the ramp. It's been sitting there for about a week. Turns out it's out of service, awaiting repair. A few weeks ago, there was another C-17 that did the same thing; sat on the ramp broken for over week.

This reminded me of another event a few weeks ago. The military was holding some kind of exercise here involving C-130's and KC-135's, along with some other aircraft. I watched as these airplanes start-up and sit on the ramp. For about 20 minutes they sat there. Finally they start taxiing. They rolled out of parking and then sat on the taxiway for about 10 minutes before going to the runway and taking off. Time between start-up and takeoff was the better part of 30 minutes.

So, my questions is: Why do these things take so long? An airline, or any kind of civilian operator, would never let its airplane sit out of service for a week. Nor would they sit for 20-30 minutes on the with engines running. Most airplanes are airborne within a few minutes

So, what is the deal here? Is this normal military activity? If so, why?
 

stroboli62

Well-Known Member
Parts wait

Better part of 30 mins? IFR release, maybe entry into MOA through scheduling, long checklists, new pilots training yada yada

A myriad of things that civilian folks don't do....normal in the military isn't always normal in the civilian world

Military "ain't" running a scheduled airline type of operation to worry about "letting an aircraft sit a week"....some of those types of aircraft simply do not have COTS Commercial Off The Shelf items typical of a 121 operation nor does AOG always apply to Mil aircraft
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
This morning there is a C-17 sitting out on the ramp. It's been sitting there for about a week. Turns out it's out of service, awaiting repair. A few weeks ago, there was another C-17 that did the same thing; sat on the ramp broken for over week.

This reminded me of another event a few weeks ago. The military was holding some kind of exercise here involving C-130's and KC-135's, along with some other aircraft. I watched as these airplanes start-up and sit on the ramp. For about 20 minutes they sat there. Finally they start taxiing. They rolled out of parking and then sat on the taxiway for about 10 minutes before going to the runway and taking off. Time between start-up and takeoff was the better part of 30 minutes.

So, my questions is: Why do these things take so long? An airline, or any kind of civilian operator, would never let its airplane sit out of service for a week. Nor would they sit for 20-30 minutes on the with engines running. Most airplanes are airborne within a few minutes

So, what is the deal here? Is this normal military activity? If so, why?
First problem: Parts priority is entirely dependent on mission requirement.

Second Problem: Minimum equipment lists change for combat vs non combat.

That C17 you are staring at may be literally performing non essential tasks and not on the board for anything in the immediate future while waiting on a part to fix the bathroom that a paper says is a must have to fly stateside. Meanwhile you’ve got active aircraft with diagonals and circle red X MX conditions operating in theatre or others on ready alert for the global response requirement that have those parts the broke useless plane needs but are by mission requirement not allowed to let those not be off hand.

Ive been in situations/places where because of that system I’ve got engines and transmissions literally laying around a hanger that I don’t need but are there just in case. That’s because the risk of us dropping a mission the day they weren’t and we needed one was too great to the combatant commander who sets our requirements. Meanwhile in garrison I’ve had aircraft literally sit in the field for a week waiting for a transmission to get shipped to us because we weren’t allowed to keep any on hand at all (they were all at the other place).


What airport are you at? If you’re the first stop out of theatre that’s often times why they seem broke all the time. They take off under a combat MEL (knowing it’s broke) and as soon as they touch down wherever that is they are broke because the rule book changes on them and they lost their priority for parts. Week in Rota Spain or Dover Delaware vs Afghanistan I don’t blame them. Same reason we always take broke trucks to the field. It’s the only way to get them fixed some times.

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MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
I remember some visitors to my base a couple decades ago being wow’d at how many A-10 were parked on the ramp. An impressive display of Air Force power!

Umm, see all the ones sitting higher on their landing gear than the others (a bunch of them)? Yeah if you move the engine covers, you’ll notice there are no engines inside....and well as other crap cannibalized off of them...
 

Soku39

Well-Known Member
It's not an airline, we don't have a route network of preplanned places that we go. Getting parts is literally a worldwide issue. Second issue, at least in the C-130, fly to failure, I've been told that soon this will change based on predictive failure, i.e. a generator fails every xx amount of hours so they will replace at xx hours. Third issue, money, we don't have any. Fourth issue, we've been at war for 20 years, the iron gets tired. Fifth issue, there is just a ton of time built into timelines for large formations and rices, this is really done at the weapons school graduate level. Sixth, flight time is only counted when the planes are actually flying in the air, I honestly believe its a really disingenuous way of counting flight time as far as engine run time and airframe pressurization cycles are concerned but that's probably not going to change in my lifetime.

I fly at an airline too, so I feel the pain, getting to the hotel after a day at the airline and a day in the C-130 are night and day. Buttoning up a C-130 takes for effing ever.
 

///AMG

Well-Known Member
I cant speak for heavies, but the basic timeline for a fighter is startup around 30-40 mins prior to planned takeoff. Possibly slightly shorter if you are flying something more basic/older like an F-5 or something. Figure about 15-20 mins to get everything started up, operating, and complete your final checks under normal conditions. The rest of that time is spare time for troubleshooting if required (not uncommon), and taxiing. It also can conceivably allow you to jump into a spare aircraft and not be unreasonably late to launch if you hurry. It's a different mindset with a different set of requirements.
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
I cant speak for heavies, but the basic timeline for a fighter is startup around 30-40 mins prior to planned takeoff. Possibly slightly shorter if you are flying something more basic/older like an F-5 or something. Figure about 15-20 mins to get everything started up, operating, and complete your final checks under normal conditions. The rest of that time is spare time for troubleshooting if required (not uncommon), and taxiing. It also can conceivably allow you to jump into a spare aircraft and not be unreasonably late to launch if you hurry. It's a different mindset with a different set of requirements.
It was 1 hour for APU/Run Up as SOB in my last unit. Didn’t take that long, but that allowed time for a jump to make your mission time.

I’m sure the concept of “Running Spare” would blow some of the more money/profit driven mindset.


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Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
It was 1 hour for APU/Run Up as SOB in my last unit. Didn’t take that long, but that allowed time for a jump to make your mission time.

I’m sure the concept of “Running Spare” would blow some of the more money/profit driven mindset.


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Flying Spare. "OK, we got this 8 ship 300 miles into 2500 mile trip and nobody broke. You on the end can go home and go back to bed now."

The best I can do is a start 10 minutes prior to taxi, and that's with no major systems to warm up/arm. 45 minutes prior is the time line when you only get one shot at making your takeoff timeline.

But yeah, I also have no idea what the hell the transport category aircraft are doing turning on the deck for 30-40 minutes before they leave.
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
Flying Spare. "OK, we got this 8 ship 300 miles into 2500 mile trip and nobody broke. You on the end can go home and go back to bed now."

The best I can do is a start 10 minutes prior to taxi, and that's with no major systems to warm up/arm. 45 minutes prior is the time line when you only get one shot at making your takeoff timeline.

But yeah, I also have no idea what the hell the transport category aircraft are doing turning on the deck for 30-40 minutes before they leave.
I have no kidding gone from standing next to a quiet aircraft to launched and outbound in under 4 minutes, but nothing about that launch was legal if anything had gone wrong. 15 minutes is advertised and doable, but that’s betting on nothing to wake up stupid. Most were comfortable with a 20-30 minute run up to launch and if you had to jump unless people were actively bleeding or in contact it wasn’t an issue that would end the world. The longest thing was just getting all your crap and shuffling it over to whatever spare was yours. Sometimes you get lucky and it’s next to you, others it’s a couple hundred yard dash carrying all your crap.

Spares and mission first mentality will make you do crazy and even dumb stuff. We had a couple incidences of using two non pilot-in
-command Rated Crew members spinning up an Apache, taxiing to the rocks, conducting hit checks, and then sitting in the rocks until it was confirmed the actual Air Weapons Team was away and outbound of the corridor. “Gun Spare I’m outbound you can return to parking.” Thank god nobody hot started or backed into a T wall with a tail rotor because there would be no protecting or explanations to whatever arm chair desk flying crushing force came down on the leadership. Usually though the most we ever did was everything complete up to engine starts and you’d just hop back and forth between seats to do the checks that are seat specific, or have a smart crew chief jump up here and talk them through it. In that condition a crew is in, and pushing back from parking within 3 minutes. Defer the hit checks until first turn through refuel and get where you need to be.
 
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