BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
The Louisiana State University at Shreveport Cyber Collaboratory reaffirmed their commitment to the 307th Bomb Wing by providing the unit with vital parachute testing equipment during a visit here, July 6.
The LSUS team provided primers that aid in determining the functionality of B-52 Stratfofortress aircrew parachutes. Tech. Sgt. Danielle Johnson, 307th Operations Support Squadron parachute noncommissioned officer in charge, said the piece is vital for the safety of aircrew.
“It brings peace of mind to us and the aircrew knowing a chute will work properly if needed,” she said.
The metal primer, smaller than a dime, fits inside the firing mechanism of the parachute. A firing pin is employed during testing that hits the primer. If it leaves the correct size indention, then aicrew flight equipment personnel know the chute works.
AFE personnel had been placing a piece of tape over the tube and see if the firing pin made an impression on it during testing. Though functional, Johnson found the system less than ideal.
“It was difficult to determine if the firing pin made the dent or if our thumb print did,” said Johnson. “It would cause us to rerun the same test multiple times.”
Scott Isaacs, LSUS Cyber Collaboratory director, learned of the need during a previous visit to the unit. Isaacs and his team have been making parts for the 307th BW for the past several months, using cutting edge scanning and 3D printing technology.
But, this time, Scott felt like creating a prototype and then making enough primers at the Cyber Collaboratory would be too slow, given the safety concerns.
“We have to fit it into the existing equipment and there are a lot of little minutae in the moving parts you have to be cognizant of,” said Scott.
Scott realized Johnson and her team were concerned about aircrew safety and he wanted to speed up the process. He had once been a competitive shooter and began to think that some old friends from those days may be able to help.
After a long series of phone calls and emails, Scott was put in touch with representatives from Vista Outdoors, a sporting goods provider. They were able to send 5,000 primers, which worked perfectly during a test.
“We test about 250 primers a year, so 5,000 will last us a long time,” said Johnson. “I’m very grateful LSUS was willing to help us out.”
Scott said he would still like to try and make the primers one day, but was glad he could ultimately find a solution to the problem.
“I didn’t want to lose time just trying to make this neat thing, because safety is of the utmost importance,” he said.
LSUS Cyber Collaboratory also performed 3D scans on the B-52 during their trip to Barksdale Air Force Base. They hope to provide needed parts for the jet in the next few months.