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"Cart-Starts" help keep Warbirds ready to respond at moments notice

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Whitney
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Airmen assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have recently been showcasing the B-52 Stratofortress's ability to respond to threats at a moment's notice.

Throughout the month of December, Deployed Minot Airmen have been launching aircraft by a method known as cartridge starts, or "Cart-Starts." During these launches, a small controlled explosive is inserted into two of the eight engines located on the B-52.

"The charges basically jumpstart the engines, removing the need to bring out the (air supply units) and the Aerospace Ground Equipment that we use on normal launches. By removing these steps, we increase the aircrafts startup time from over an hour, to less than 10 minutes," said Tech Sgt. Andrew Poole, 36th EAMXS Crew Chief.

On normal launches, B-52s must be supplied with an alternate energy source and an air supply to start the engines. Once an engine has turned over, that engine has the ability to supply air to the remaining engines, as well as power if it is one of the four engines with a generator attached.

In this way, it is possible to start all of the remaining engines using one engine with a generator, which is the key to the "cart-start" launch. Using the cartridges, an engine with a generator is started immediately, and the remaining engines are started while the aircraft taxis to the end of runway.

Although "cart-starts" allow the crew to get the B-52 airborne in less than 10 minutes , during training scenarios it actually takes longer than regular launches due to safety checks.

"During these scenarios, we actually turn all the engines on and run through the pre-flight checks like a regular launch. Once we have checked all systems to make sure everything is working normally, we shut everything down, and the pilots get back in their vehicle," said Sgt. Poole. "As soon as we get the call over the radio, we perform like we would in an emergency situation, the pilots run out of the vehicle to the aircraft, the maintainers load the cartridges as fast as they can, and we get the bird airborne in less than ten minutes,"

Although this is a routine these Airmen have been through at Minot Air Force Base, it is not a capability that Andersen sees very often.

"We are showcasing our ability to have these bombers up and in the air at a moment's notice, so that the guys at Pacific Command know what kind of capababilities this plane brings to the Global Deterrence mission here," Sgt. Poole said.