Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

June 3, 2016 at 7:37am

Avionics shop works for the Air Force of tomorrow

Staff Sgt. Curtis Rosga, 62nd Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, troubleshoots C-17 automated test equipment May 24, 2016, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

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Behind the scenes of the McChord flightline, Team McChord airmen work around the clock to sustain the Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III fleet.

One example of that work here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the 62nd Maintenance Squadron avionics flight who has successfully worked with mission partners to provide better C-17 aircraft parts to keep the aircraft flying longer.

Currently, the Air Force is working with Boeing to replace old models of the C-17s' multi-function display units used by pilots as part of their flight controls.

Although the displays are regularly being changed out, the demand for the new unit is expected to exceed the rate at which units are being produced. Due to this high demand, the avionics flight here has found a way to prevent this from happening. They have recently started taking old C-17 multi-function display units refurbishing them and putting them back into supply.

"This results in greater mission effectiveness and cost savings," said Tech. Sgt. Jesse Thorn, 62nd MXS avionics flight section chief. "We are taking condemned assets and reverting them to operational status."

Valued at $192,000, each C-17 multi-function display unit that's refurbished results in savings for the Air Force and provides a surplus of replacement assets for the Air Force's C-17 fleet.

Since taking on the task of refurbishing the units in February, the flight has refurbished 10, resulting in a total of $1.9 million in savings for the Air Force.  

"We have a really good working relationship with Boeing because of the knowledge base we have," said Thorn. "We are continually working on control and verification of technical data and maintaining obsolete equipment."

In addition to taking on the task of refurbishing obsolete equipment, in May of 2015, the avionics flight also undertook the task of maintaining and improving an inventory of surplus replacement testing equipment for the entire Air Force.

The flight now maintains the Air Force's surplus supply of light-source assemblies, which are used to measure luminance of C-17 multi-function display units.

The flight identified the supply of spare light-source assemblies were not being tracked efficiently and were often not meeting calibration standards.

When in storage and not regularly calibrated, avionics shops trying to use the replacement equipment would often have to wait an additional 30 days for a device to be calibrated resulting in halting of work and productivity.

"We ran into this problem before and nothing was done; we didn't want to see this continue to be a recurring issue," said Carla De Ruysscher, 62nd MXS avionics technician. "We don't want other bases to have to worry when they get these parts - whether or not they're going to work."

Team McChord's avionics flight has taken on the responsibility to maintain all of the Air Force's spare units to prevent these delays. They are responsible for maintaining the devices and ensuring they are calibrated annually.  

The result of this venture is 30 days of potential time-savings for each device maintained. Since taking on this task, the flight has filled six orders, saving the Air Force approximately 180 days that could have been delayed due to calibration.

"When we are contacted for a light-source assembly, we send the best one to them. They don't have to worry if it's working properly or that it has been calibrated because we've already got them covered," said Master Sgt. Andrew Wasson, 62nd MXS avionics flight chief. "The time-savings alone makes a giant impact to the Air Force and the C-17 Fleet."

Because "good enough" is not acceptable for the avionics flight, they have also worked to improve the longevity of the light-source assemblies by replacing the batteries from alkaline to lithium batteries.

"They will last longer and have minimal corrosion; they will basically last forever," said Thorn. "This is a testament to the caliber of individuals in this flight. They go the extra mile to get things done and better everyday processes."

Looking to better each task they take on, the flight also strives to support avionics airmen across the Air Force.

"We are all one team and support the same mission," said Staff Sgt. Eric Scott, 62nd MXS avionics technician. "This allows everyone else to have the capability to turn out parts faster."

The flight is always looking to improve whatever it can, said Scott.

"Keeping an open mind and looking to better processes is an important part of what we do," said Scott. "It betters mission-efficiency and effectiveness which reduces station downtime around the Air Force as a whole."

While working to make things better in the avionics arena, the flight's primary objective is the mission, De Ruysscher said.

"Every day we run into problems like this and we try to go the extra step to better things," De Ruysscher said. "Saving the Air Force money is a big priority, but keeping planes in the air is our main goal."

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