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A coworker I worked alongside once told me that during his time in the Navy, he was responsible for taking care of maintenance on F-22s. He stated that every F-22 required 10 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight.

I am curious how this level of maintenance stacked up against older less-modern aircraft. For the sake of narrowing it down, let's take the F4U Corsair as an example. Assuming a routine flight (training or simply air-patrol), what was the amount of time that would be required to maintain the aircraft on the ground to keep it safe for its next flight? 1 hour? 2 Hours?

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    $\begingroup$ Although that number may be correct, it is highly unlikely that your friend worked on F-22s if he was in the Navy. Raptors are an Air Force plane. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Aug 12 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ Figures like this are a bit of an awkward 'time accounting' issue, and answers would ideally take care to include what hours they're including. [ie, 'total support hours' can include the cook's time for meals for all the crew involved, but is not 'maintenance time', while the time spent by crew changing out and loading ammo belts gets into a bit more of a fuzzy zone.] $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Aug 12 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall maybe the friend said Air Force and the OP just mixed them up. Or, maybe OP couldn't remember the specific airplane so just said the one they could think of. $\endgroup$ – SnakeDoc Aug 12 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ The model does matter a lot, though. Relative time spent on maintenance does vary quite a bit, even among modern planes. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Aug 13 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ "10 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight." does not mean it takes ten hours to get the plane ready for the next flight, or even that it takes ten people an hour to get it ready for the next flight. It might take much less than that to turnround for the next flight, but requires hundreds of hours maintenence every ten or twenty flights. $\endgroup$ – DJClayworth Aug 13 at 19:25
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Far more than that. Try 50 maintenance hours per flight hour.

actually finding a reliable source on-line has proven to be a bit difficult. RNZAF, pacific maintenance 58 man hours per flying hour. NZ based (training) F4u 50.5 man hours per flying hour. P51s NZ based (conversion and training) 36 man hours per flight hour.

Piston engines (esp. WW2-era high-performance fighter engines) are very maintenance-intensive compared to jets.

Here's a comparison of various military aircraft types:

Saab Draken.- 50 to 1
Eurofighter....- 9 to 1
F-14............. - 24 to 1
F-18E/F........- 6 to 1
F-18E/F........- 15 to 1 (different source)
Saab Gripen..- 10 to 1

C-17.............- 20 to 1
F-15A/B........- 32.3
F-15C/D........- 22.1
F-16A...........- 19.2
F-117...........- 150
F-117...........- 45 (after improvements, post 1989)
CH-46E........- 19.6 in 1995 GlobalSecurity.org
CH-46E........- 27.2 in 2000
CH-53D........- 24.8 in 1995
CH-53D........- 27.9 in 2000
F-20.............- 5.6
A-6E............- 51.9
F/A-18C.......- 19.1
B-2..............- 124

and you can see modern fighters require far less maintenance hours/flight hour due to several factors:

  • improved systems that require less frequent maintenance
  • design improvements to make maintenance take less time (better access, more line-replaceable units)
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  • $\begingroup$ I looked at your first link and didn't find the reference 50 maintenance hours per flight hour. Is the link correct? Also, I'm not sure a discussion forum represents an authoritative source. $\endgroup$ – Eric Shain Aug 12 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ There were 3 figures on that page, I rounded off the average. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Aug 12 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I found it. It was in a section that had to be expanded. $\endgroup$ – Eric Shain Aug 12 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ Possibly worth clarifying that these are maintenance man-hours rather than clock hours; it's not clear which figure OP is interested in. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Aug 13 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ OP said "amount of time that would be required to maintain the aircraft on the ground", so sounds more like wall-clock time. Thus, depending on the aircraft and specific tasks needed, you could throw more people at it to complete checks faster. $\endgroup$ – Nick T Aug 13 at 3:33

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