Getting Airborne Fast

B-52H maintainers from Minot AFB, N.D., who have been deployed since October, to Andersen AFB, Guam, throughout last month practiced a method for launching the bombers much more quickly than regular starts. These exercises were intended to showcase the ability of the venerable bombers to get airborne within 10 minutes to reinforce their utility as a deterrent to aggression in the Pacific region. The Minot airmen, currently assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, used cartridge starts, or “cart-starts,” to launch the aircraft. They entail inserting a small controlled explosive into two of the bomber’s eight engines. “The charges basically jumpstart the engines, removing the need to bring out the aerospace ground equipment used on normal launches,” said TSgt. Andrew Poole, 36th EAMXS crew chief. By removing these steps, the airmen can decrease the aircraft’s startup time “from more than an hour to less than 10 minutes,” explained Poole. Normally a B-52H is supplied with an alternate energy source and an air supply to start its engines. Using the cart-start launch, an engine with a generator is started immediately and the remaining engines are started while the aircraft taxis to the end of runway. (Andersen report by SrA. Ryan Whitney)