Support: Making a Three Engine B-1 Take Off


October 31, 2007: Last August, a U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber was operating over Afghanistan when one of its engines failed and caught fire. An emergency landing was made at Kandahar airport. Now the air force had to figure out how to get its $280 million bomber back into action. While it was possible to fly a new engine, and maintenance personnel, into Kandahar to make the repairs, it was considered more practical to just remove the engine, and fly the bomber, on three engines, to the nearest base that was equipped for an engine change. That base happened to be in Britain. It took over a month to plan and carry out the operation. A team of mechanics were flown to Kandahar to remove the 15 foot long, two ton engine, and prepare it to be flown out separately for repairs. Meanwhile, back in the United States, a B-1 flight simulator was reprogrammed to depict a three engine flight. Using the simulator, the flight from Afghanistan to Britain was rehearsed. Finally, in October, a special flight crew, who had practiced flying a B-1 on three engines in the simulator, went to Kandahar, and flew the damaged B-1 back to Britain. The aircraft refueled in the air twice along the way. A fresh engine (there are no new ones, as the last F101 engine was built twenty years ago) is being installed, so the B-1 can return to service.


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