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Boeing trails maintenance time saver

BOEING HAS designed and built a trailer aimed at reducing engine maintenance times and costs on the US Air Force's new Boeing/Lockheed F-22 fighter.

Recent tests using mock-ups of the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney F119 engines and F-22 aft section are already said to have demonstrated the major benefits available. Engine removal and installation time is estimated to be about 40% faster than with current equipment.

Boeing says that, unlike conventional trailers, the F-22 unit has adjustable rails, which can be aligned with the temporary rails usually installed during engine removal. This avoids the need to reposition the trailer and accounts, for the bulk of the time saving.

The trailer does not use hydraulics, relying instead on four manually operated worm-gear jack screw-type actuators.

Boeing believes that the increased reliability will reduce trailer maintenance by 50% compared with other systems.

The design also allows the trailer to be used in a dual role. The USAF wants a unit for on-base towing and for transporting engines as cargo - bypassing the need for other specialised equipment.

Boeing has subcontracted Seyer Industries of St Peters, Missouri, to build three trailers. Orders for a further 89 could follow, depending on the number of F-22s purchased by the USAF.

There are no current plans to market the trailer for use with engines other than the F119.