Lyn Lohberger and Phil Wellner performing ejection seat maintenance. (NASA Photo). The ejection seat used in our aircraft is directly related to our primary duty. Here at Dryden we have five different types of ejection seats in 12 aircraft, with a total of 23 ejection seats. The types of aircraft maintained are: F-15, F-18, ER-2 (U-2) and T-38. Maintaining these seats includes periodic inspection, forecasting of ballistic devices used, changing ballistics, ordering and storing of ballistics, unscheduled maintenance (removal of all or part of the seat to allow other shops to perform maintenance), and functional testing of critical components of the seats to ensure that they will work when required.
Major sub-systems of the ejection seats are the parachutes and survival kits. The parachutes used on the ACES 11 (F-15) and the SJU-17/ NACES (F-18 ) are mounted directly to the ejection seat and are removed at specified periods for repack inspection, or to replace any time change items which are due, such as risers or explosive devices or the canopies. The T-38 parachutes are called "back-style" chutes and are carried to the aircraft and installed in the ejection seat by the crewmember.
All of the repack inspections are accomplished by the local Air Force Survival Equipment Section under a Memorandum of Agreement between NASA Dryden and the Air Force Flight Test Center.