Now that we are two decades into the 21st century, it might seem strange to some that the U.S. Navy still has propeller-drive, fixed-wing aircraft. But the specialized nature of many of the Navy’s aerial missions means that what might appear to be outdated technology is actually well-suited to accomplish highly specific tasks—provided the time-tested components are kept in top working order by Aviation Machinist’s Mates (AD).

The Navy’s prop-based fixed-wing aircraft are still in service for a couple of reasons, both of which can be traced back to the fact that they are equipped with turboprop power plants as opposed to reciprocating (piston-based) engines. First, turboprop planes are highly fuel efficient when flying at speeds under 450 miles per hour, and aircrews performing antisubmarine warfare, maritime surveillance, or reconnaissance are often required to fly at slower speeds for considerable lengths of time. Another consideration is the ability to land and take off from an aircraft carrier: Turboprops have excellent short-takeoff and landing (STOL) attributes, particularly impressive given the size of many of the aircraft equipped with them that are used in the Navy.

ADs specializing in turboprop engines are likely to be initially trained on one of four fixed-wing aircraft. The C-2 Greyhound, which went into production in 1965, is the Navy’s carrier onboard delivery fixed-wing aircraft. The E-2 Hawkeye, an airborne early warning system and the platform upon which the C-2 was derived, went into service a year earlier in 1964. The P-3 Orion antisubmarine and surveillance aircraft is one of a handful of planes to have seen 50 years of continuous service in the U.S. Navy, and the EP-3 Aries is nearing the end of its service life: it’s scheduled to be replaced by 2012 or 2020.

Regardless of the aircraft platform, Aviation Machinist’s Mates will be working with aircraft that have seen extensive service, which makes their tasks of engine maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting vitally important.


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