Ask the Maintainers

Senior F-35 program leaders met at Eglin AFB, Fla., last week in part to see training operations with the strike fighter and to have a chance to talk to its pilots and maintainers. The maintainers have offered many good suggestions, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer, told reporters on a teleconference on June 12 following those meetings. It’s been determined that oil needs to be checked less frequently on the F-35, and maintainers have asked for permission to overrule the computerized aircraft health monitoring system if they know the jet is OK, but the system is being overly conservative. Consequently, turn time between a landing and the next takeoff has dropped from four-and-a-half hours last year to three hours this year, and “we hope to bring it down more,” said Bogdan. “The airplane is very smart” and knows when it’s broken or about to break, he said, but the maintainers are ferreting out system bugs that insist on further checks when maintainers “know that it’s fine,” he said.