AFMC Command News

Former USAF crew chief puts his knowledge to use as a test engineer at AEDC engine test facilities

  • Published
  • By Deidre Moon

Bryon Harrington, a test engineer for the Propulsion Test Branch at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., served previously as a crew chief in the U.S. Air Force from 2007 to 2017.

While serving in the Air Force, Harrington worked hands-on with several of the aircraft and the engines that AEDC teams test and evaluate.

“I worked the F-15 Eagle, F-22 Raptor and MQ-1B Predator aircraft over my career and reached the rank of Tech Sergeant,” he said. “I became Engine Run-qualified on the F-22 in 2010 as a Senior Airman, and my last engine run was in 2016.

“I have troubleshot the F119 engine for numerous faults and changed out almost every part possible while the engine is still installed on the aircraft. From my experience, I am quite familiar with the integration of the engine into the aircraft and the current engine configuration used.”

After separating from the Air Force in 2017, he headed to Tennessee Technological University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. During his studies, he started interning at Arnold, which later landed him a full-time position with Arnold Engineering Development Complex in June 2020. 

Using all he learned from his time spent as crew chief, along with the help of the experienced test analysts and engineers at Arnold, Harrington said he hopes he can provide some insight into different projects being worked in the engine test facilities. 

“I have been able to use my knowledge of the engine components and their operation to help the modeling engineers develop an accurate representation of the current engine configuration,” he said. “Working with the Technical and Management Advisory Services experts, I have assisted in providing past test information to validate those models.”

Harrington also noted that his previous experience working and operating the engine has made it easy to relate operating and emergency procedures in the test cell to flight line procedures.

“Many of the test objectives include simulating an engine installed in an aircraft to include power extraction and bleed extraction,” he said. “Knowing all the components of the aircraft that make up the Accessory Drive and Environmental Controls System helps me understand what we are simulating. Having run the engine from the cockpit, I am familiar with monitoring key engine parameters and what to watch on the engine to detect an emergency condition and take action to prevent damage or failure.”

In his new position as test engineer, Harrington is responsible for safely and effectively integrating the engine into the test cell, which includes contributing to the Safety Review Board, Test Review Board and Test Readiness Review; monitoring and recording data during the test; and contributing to the Technical Report after the test. 

“In addition to engine test programs, test engineers contribute to many of the AEDC technology projects and provide engine expertise to those,” he said. “The ops (operations) tempo can be much slower on the test as there are still a lot of unknowns. In the operational Air Force the aircraft and engine have already been thoroughly tested and the focus is on delivering aircraft to the warfighter daily.”

Technical advisor Steve Arnold said he considers Harrington’s experience a unique asset for the branch.  

“We’ve already taken advantage of Bryon’s hands-on experience to provide rapid support to customers for some of the engines he maintained as a crew chief,” Arnold said.

Though Harrington hasn’t been at Arnold a year yet, he said he is thoroughly enjoying his job and AEDC.

“The working environment here is great as everyone tries to contribute and share their knowledge to achieve testing goals,” he said. “There is a real focus on maintaining a cohesive work environment, which sometimes gets lost in the operational world due to a faster ops tempo and mission requirements.”