WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Members of the 509th Maintenance Squadron tested five Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units to evaluate potential new cooling options for the B-2 Spirit.
Barbara Douglas, a civilian employee assigned to the Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command B-2 system program office, functioned as the program manager for the project.
The B-2’s current ground HVAC system, the PD-501, is aging and difficult to sustain from a maintenance perspective, she said.
“We are testing multiple units to see if any of them will fit the bill as a replacement,” said Douglas.
The personnel who facilitated the testing came from the seven different organizations to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, from July 15-19, 2019.
They came from:
-Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command common support equipment office
-AF Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate
-AF Lifecycle management center B-2 offices at Tinker and Wright-Patterson AFB
- AF Lifecycle management center HVAC office from Robins AFB
- The University of Dayton Research Institute
Douglas credited Master Sgt. Jeremy Longo with the overall success of the week.
Longo, the aerospace ground equipment production superintendent, along with other members of Whiteman’s maintenance team, worked to coordinate the delivery of different HVAC systems from across the AF, including Ellsworth, Dyess, Tinker, and Northrup Grumman.
“Master sergeant Longo was absolutely critical to accomplishing this high priority test in a very short time,” she said.
Senior Master Sgt. Mark Haralson, the lead command aerospace ground equipment functional manager assigned to HQAFMC at Wright-Patterson AFB, described what the team was looking for during this week of testing.
“We are essentially looking at the output temperature, volume, pressure of all five units and then weighing them against the specifications of the B-2,” he said.
“The B-2 is currently the only aircraft in the AF inventory which uses the dated PD-501 AC unit, which can make sustainment and maintainability of the fleet difficult,” said Haralson.
Ashkan Serat, a mechanical engineer assigned to the AFLCMC at Robins AFB, said that the AF’s HVAC fleet can be a challenge to maintain because of how many different systems there are, which all require unique replacement parts.
“The Air Force and associated aircraft world would benefit greatly from a HVAC modernization program that improves commonality and overall combat agility,” said Serat.
Lt. Col. Phillip Rehmert, the 509th MXS commander, said it was great to see so many organizations come together to work on a common goal.
“It was also a great training opportunity for my AGE technicians to learn from some of the best, to see different air conditioning units, and gain insight into a much bigger picture,” He said.
The AF Research Laboratory and University of Dayton Research Institute will compile all the collected test data and return it to the B-2 system program office by the end of August so they can make an informed decision on what comes next for cooling the AF’s premier stealth bomber.
“We are all looking forward to the report and can’t thank the B-2 enterprise team enough for the work they’re doing,” said Rehmert.