AFRL Technology Extends Engine Lives

Air Force Research Lab engineers at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, have already saved the nation nearly $300 million under an engine rotor life-extension program, called ERLE, that has reduced the costs associated with F-15 and F-16 jet engine maintenance. And, the savings are expected to grow as ERLE technology and insights are applied to other jet turbine engines used by the Air Force. Since ERLE’s inception eight years ago, AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate has demonstrated that some lifecycle costs can be avoided for engine rotor maintenance, repair, and overhaul, according to Siamack Mazdiyasni, lead project engineer of the directorate’s metals, ceramics, and nondestructive evaluation division. Under ERLE, technology has been developed that enables better nondestructive inspection of turbine engine components in depot for small cracks and flaws. These advances have safely extended the operational life of critical rotating turbine engine components “by one additional depot interval” while increasing depot inspection capability, reliability, and efficiency, said Mazdiyasni. (Wright-Patterson report by Pete Meltzer Jr.)