by Senior Airman Wendy Kuhn
121st Air Refueling Wing
4/23/2015 - RICKENBACKER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio -- Members
of the 121st Air Refueling Wing's Maintenance Squadron and Maintenance
Group here took part in inspections on a 121 ARW KC-135 Stratotanker
during its programmed depot maintenance as part of Operation Team
Spirit, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., Mar. 2, 2015 - Mar. 4, 2015.
The program allows home station maintenance Airmen to collaborate with
564th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron personnel while they perform
inspections on aircraft in the depot facility as it undergoes the
intense four- to six-month process of depot maintenance.
Depot maintenance is performed on KC-135 aircraft every five years, and
involves stripping the aircraft down, inspecting it for deficiencies,
and fixing or replacing parts as necessary, said Senior Master Sgt.
Edward Taylor, quality assurance team lead, 121st ARW Maintenance Group.
"This is a 1958 model so given its age, corrosion is a huge enemy to this aircraft," said Taylor.
Prior to Team Spirit, acceptance inspections were performed at the
aircrafts' home stations after the maintenance was completed, said
Taylor. This process resulted in a higher amount of write-ups found
during the inspections and increased inspection times. Under the Team
Spirit process, many issues can be corrected on the spot while the
aircraft is still dismantled.
"From our unit's standpoint, this process is massively beneficial," said
Master Sgt. Don Armstrong, quality assurance, 121st ARW Maintenance
Group. "Not only does it provide a second set of eyes on the aircraft
which improves safety, but it also decreases downtime at home because it
streamlines the acceptance inspection process."
The Team Spirit program also provides both the depot facility and the
121 ARW Maintenance Airmen with an opportunity to share information,
ideas and best practices, said Master Sgt. Mark Rawlins, crew chief,
121st ARW Maintenance Group. Additionally, it gives the Airmen a better
understanding of how the aircraft goes together and what is involved in
the depot maintenance process, said Rawlins.
"If we just take this jet home, we have no idea what's been done to it
or how it goes together," said Rawlins. "When we come here, we're able
to see it torn down and we gain a lot of knowledge from that."
This two-way exchange of information and ideas also benefits the 564th
AMXS facility personnel as well, said Curtis Kisling, Systems Unit
Chief, Tanker Production Flight, 564th AMXS. It also improves the
working relations between their unit and the home station unit.
"When our people are able to put faces to the people that actually fly
and maintain these jets, it gives these guys an enormous sense of pride
and it shows in the work they do," said Kisling.
After the aircraft returns home, an acceptance inspection is performed
there as well, but it is significantly reduced by the Team Spirit
process, said Taylor.
"This aircraft is going on 60 years old, and it projected out for
another 20 - 30 years," said Taylor. "This process is essential to
keeping the aircraft flying. It keeps it reliable and sustainable as
long as the Air Force needs it."