FRCSW LM2500 Engine Program Surpasses 40 Years of Service

Routinely recognized for its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work on naval aircraft, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) also stands out as the Navy’s sole source for MRO services to the LM2500 engine.

First used to power the Spruance and Kidd-class destroyers in the 1970s, LM2500 production began in 1969. The engines proved so reliable that their use expanded in the 1980s to include Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

The engine is manufactured by the General Electric Co., and for the past 42 years, FRCSW has worked on the two types of LM2500: single and twin shank, and low power turbine.

FRCSW customers include Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and foreign navies.

“Low power turbines are treated as a separate component,” noted mechanic Lloyd Apgar. “The engines are gas generators and have a high pressure turbine in them, but that’s part of the engine itself.”

Unlike many aircraft platforms, LM2500 engines are not serviced under a planned maintenance interval; instead, they are repaired for significant cause.

“The engines are usually inducted for hot section degradation, meaning the turbine blades and turbine nozzles are starting to wear as they’re losing power or increasing fuel consumption. At that point they’re turned in for an overhaul,” Apgar said.

Mechanic Hether Troncatti said that during the overhaul procedure the engines are disassembled to their subassemblies (a total of nine components) that include two gearboxes, the compressor, stator casers, and high pressure turbine nozzle.

“We have about 20 people who work in the program. Most are mechanics, but we have four machinists who do things like the grinding of the rotor blades,” she said.

Key to a successful overhaul is the rebuilding of the engine’s compressor, she noted.

“We build the compressor in five different stages starting with the rear shaft,” said aircraft engine repairman Randy Balolong. “We have to make sure the unit is within certain specifications for installation, otherwise vibrations will cause the engine to be rejected.”

A typical engine overhaul requires approximately 3,000 manhours.

In addition to overhauls, the shop also handles service requests that cannot be completed in the fleet.

“NAVSEA may get an engine from a decommissioned ship, for example, and not want to do an overhaul, so we check and test it to make sure it’s still serviceable and it goes back into supply. Some years, we may do up to six of these,” Apgar said.

The FRCSW LM2500 program schedules about 15 engine overhauls annually.



Aircraft engine repairman Randy Balolong uses a dial indicator to check the balancing of an LM2500 engine compressor in Building 472 aboard FRCSW.

NAVAIR Engineers Honored by AIAA-San Diego

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) engineers were recognized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) – San Diego section May 10 for their development of the F/A-18/EA-18G Cabin Pressure Test Laboratory (CPTL) last August.

The AIAA, dedicated to the advancement of aeronautics and astronautics, selected the NAVAIR CPTL under the “Outstanding Achievement by an Aerospace Organization” category during its annual awards banquet held in San Diego.

The CPTL was created to identify the root cause(s) and find solutions to physiological events (PE), or decompression sickness pilots have experienced when flying all variants of the F/A-18 Hornet airframe.

PE symptoms may include dizziness, confusion and even loss of consciousness due to hypoxia, or the lack of an adequate supply of oxygen. To date, more than 500 PEs have been documented.

NAVAIR lead engineer Shawn Alexander and Kyle Zust, F/A-18 Environmental Control Systems Fleet Support Team, formed the engineering team in September 2016 that built the laboratory in Buildings 486 and 487 aboard Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).

The lab is comprised of three major components: A 3,400 cubic feet per minute variable speed industrial pump that generates negative pressure, or a vacuum, an accumulator, and the test chamber.

Aircraft cabin pressure components are placed in the chamber and analyzed via a closed-loop electronic control system and software developed by the NAVAIR team. A closed-loop control system uses feedback signals to make adjustments to itself.

The test chamber is compatible with all single and dual seat F/A-18 variants and has the ability to simulate an aircraft cabin environment from 0 to 50,000 feet, and climb rates exceeding 50,000 feet per minute.

At a cost of approximately $1.8 million, the lab is the only one of its kind that can test cabin pressure components on a system level.

Aerospace engineer Nathan Cox operates the pressurization test lab control station while fellow aerospace engineer Duy Nguyen, foreground, monitors the inside of the test chamber.

FRCSW Earns SECNAV Platinum Level Energy Award

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has earned the Secretary of the Navy’s (SECNAV) Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Energy Conservation and Water Management Platinum level award for FY 2016 environmental accomplishments.

FRCSW’s efforts recognized by the “Platinum” level category designates a “an outstanding” energy and water conservation program, with “…an exceptional year for energy project execution.”

The award is primarily based upon a reduction in utility consumption, noted FRCSW Energy Program Manager Benjamin Green.

During FY 17, the command reduced its combined use of electricity, natural gas and steam by 11.5 percent per square foot from an FY 15 baseline.

Green said that much of the utilities and energy reduction may be attributed to the formation of Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC).

An ESPC is a contract between a federal agency and an energy provider, and does not require congressional funding or up-front capital. ESPCs enable agencies to make facility improvements while simultaneously gaining reduction in energy expenditures.

Energy providers or contractors and new equipment are paid through the energy savings costs generated by the ESPC. Additional energy savings beyond that belong to the agency.

FRCSW established four major ESPCs during FY 16 which addressed lighting and lighting controls; compressed air decentralization and upgrades to the Navy Primary Standards Laboratory heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); an HVAC retrofit to the calibration laboratory; and water conservation efforts.

The ESPC lighting upgrade included a retrofit of high bay 1,000 watt lamps in the Building 466 paint complex with dual occupancy photocell sensor LEDs, and a retrofit of more than 2,300 fluorescent fixtures with LEDs and occupancy sensors in three other buildings.

Totaling approximately $1,945,661, the lighting retrofits and upgrades will save almost $200,000 annually and over 1,348,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year.

Work to the Navy Primary Standards Laboratory in Building 379 included removal of a single pass water system with a new chiller and boiler system. A solar thermal system for preheating the boiler and hot water heaters was also installed.

Installation of an upgraded wind tunnel system with a variable-frequency drive (VFD) and an energy management control system was added to the lab, as well.

The compressed air decentralization ESPC will garnish more than $1,290,000 in annual savings through the installation of 19 new compressed air plants throughout the command. The consequent air use reduction will exceed 323,160 kCF per year.

A comprehensive HVAC retrofit to Building 463 included the addition of a new chiller that uses oil-free centrifugal compressors and a VFD, and the replacement of 30 rooftop air handlers and conditioners with new efficient units. The move will result in a utility savings of approximately $1,026,000 yearly, and an annual electricity reduction of more than 3,390,000 kWh.

In water conservation efforts, the hot water mixing valves used for wash racks in the paint complex were upgraded to enable adjustable temperatures and shut off capability.

Zero-bleed cooling towers were installed in Buildings 463, 469 and 472. The towers are used to remove calcium, magnesium and particulates from make-up water.

Water conservation programs will save the command over $61,000 in yearly utility savings and reduce annual water usage by 2,460 kGal.

Overall, the total utility cost savings from the ESPCs will exceed $2.4 million annually and a total energy savings of 8,613 British Thermal Units (MMBTU).

Total contract value, which includes equipment operation and maintenance costs for 13 years, is approximately $46,866,000. Guaranteed cost savings to the command is more than $47,658,000.

FRCSW was one of only eight naval commands recognized at the SECNAV Platinum level of achievement in energy and water conservation.

The SECNAV award includes $5,000 which may be earmarked toward future energy conservation efforts within the command.