Think that aviation maintenance only involves wrenches, bolts and screws' Think again.

An integral part of aviation maintenance is a lot more high-tech than that: oil analysis - the actual scientific evaluation of an aviation engine's oil. And it's easier to perform than you think.

The Army Oil Analysis Program's Mannheim Laboratory Center at Coleman Barracks in Germany will do the dirty work. Literally.

The MLC, the only AOAP laboratory worldwide that is ISO certified, serves the entire U.S. European Command area of operations, providing the Warfighter with the most technologically advanced diagnostic tools capable of detecting impending failures in oil-wetted components before catastrophic failures occur.

"This service allows aviators to maximize asset performance and reliability by identifying minor problems before they become major failures," explained Heidrun Bodeit, director of the MLC. "Early detection of problems allows maintenance to be performed before more severe damage to the aircraft occurs. The analysis can also be used to identify inadequate or improper maintenance procedures and unsatisfactory equipment."

Here's how it works: a maintainer takes oil samples from an aviation engine and delivers them to the MLC. Within 24 hours, the MLC runs diagnostic checks, analyzes the samples, and sends the results to the unit.

Even better, maintenance chiefs have complete access to the data at all times by logging on to the Logistics Information Warehouse Web site at

"Oil analysis is performed on multiple parts of the helicopter's engine in order to get a full diagnostic reading on the oil sample," Bodeit said. "We analyze oil found in the aviation power unit; main engine and transmission; nose, intermediate and tail gearboxes; and hydraulic systems."

The MLC performs diagnostics on a wide variety of aircraft, including AH-64s, CH-47Ds, UH-1s and UH-60s.

"If proper testing isn't done during the maintenance phase," Bodeit cautioned, "the aviator runs the risk of damaging the aircraft and putting lives in danger. The AOAP can ultimately help save lives by identifying minor problems that may not be recognized during regular maintenance operations."

In addition to preventing catastrophic failures with its diagnostics expertise, the MLC provides AOAP Monitor Training for AOAP Monitors of the units.

The training can either be accessed online at the LIW Web site at'fuseaction=login.main or by downloading the training material available on DVD. Copies of the training DVDs are available for pickup by contacting Akwasi Edusei, Coleman Barracks, Bldg. #50, Rm. 112. Edusei can be contacted via telephone at DSN 314-382-5288 or via email at

For more information, contact information the AOAP-MLC at ATTN: SASEU-MLC, Unit 29331, APO AE 09086-9331, by telephone at DSN 314-382-5288/5246, or via DSN fax at 314-382-4383.

The laboratory operates Mondays through Fridays from7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.; however, the laboratory is closed on American and German holidays.