Small squadrons deliver

  • Published
  • By Maj. Mark Ashman
  • 86th Maintenance Operation Squadron commander
Did you ever wonder what the difference was between an aircraft maintenance squadron, a maintenance squadron and a maintenance operations squadron?

Well if you had, today is your lucky day.

In the simplest terms, an aircraft maintenance squadron readies and launches Ramstein's fleet of C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, day-in and day-out. AMXS performs pre-flight inspections and quick repairs "on the aircraft" to ensure the aircraft can launch on-time and fly their tasked mission.

The maintenance squadron supports AMXS by providing specialists in propulsion, avionics and fabrication to evaluate and troubleshoot complex systems. These technicians are dispatched to the flightline to evaluate more extensive repairs that AMXS cannot fix in short order. In many cases, these repairs are much more extensive, time consuming and often drive components to be taken "off the aircraft" and brought back to the shop for repair.

MXS also performs major inspections commonly referred to as letter checks which are in-depth inspections that require the aircraft to be pulled off of the flying schedule and hangared for several days. By doing this, MXS is able to inspect the aircraft, meanwhile looking for signs of corrosion and performing preventative maintenance to keep Ramstein's fleet in tip-top shape.

Finally, our maintenance operations squadron oversees and directs all aspects of maintenance operations and is comprised of three unique flights; the maintenance operations flight, the maintenance training flight and the programs flight. Each flight plays their unique role in executing the squadron's mission and collectively they bridge the gap between AMXS and MXS to inevitably keep the 86th Maintenance Group moving forward.

Although small in numbers, MOS always delivers. With about 49 Airmen assigned, we play a pivotal role in facilitating the maintenance mission, by directing, analyzing, training, managing, and monitoring all aspects of the maintenance operation while providing real-time information to senior leaders and maintenance managers. Simply stated, MOS is the cog that keeps the 86th Maintenance Group turning. and the 86th Airlift Wing soaring to new heights.

Maintenance Operations Flight
Comprised of four sections; plans, scheduling and documentation, maintenance management analysis, maintenance operations center and engine management. Each of these sections operates and executes their portion of the mission as their name implies. Of note, plans, scheduling and documentation collaborates daily with AMXS to assign aircraft to the flying schedule, they maintain historical maintenance documentation for each aircraft and they schedule aircraft for letter check inspections performed by MXS.

Maintenance management analysis performs detailed analysis of aircraft systems based on discrepancies identified by the aircrew, while on the ground or in flight, that are not performing at their peak performance. Depending on the severity or condition of the system dictates whether a quick fix can be performed by AMXS or if a more extensive repair is required that would drive MXS to respond.

By performing detailed analysis of the technician's notes, analysis can determine if the aircraft has experienced an isolated incident or if there is a larger system failure due to a repeat or recurring problem. Analysis's end goal is to maximize the health of each aircraft all the while managing Ramstein's fleet as a whole.

The maintenance operations center, also referred to as MOC, is our maintenance control center that is manned 24/7/365 and serves as the eyes and ears of all maintenance activities performed on the flight line. MOC tracks scripted events required to launch and recover aircraft and they direct support equipment and personnel, as required, to specific aircraft parking locations to assist with aircraft preparation.

Finally, engine management, as their name implies, monitors the performance and health of each of the four engines on the C-130J. Engine management operates in much the same fashion as analysis; they look for engine trends across the C-130J fleet and communicate those trends to the MAJCOM to foster crosstalk across the Air Force.

Maintenance Training Flight
The maintenance training flight, or MTF, trains the maintenance workforce in a repeatable, standardized manner; as new Airmen join the 86th Maintenance Group, they are enrolled in the Maintenance Qualification Training Program and learn critical skills tied to specifically working on C-130J aircraft.

The MTF also enrolls Airmen in Air Force specialty code career development courses and tracks their progress as they work toward achieving their five or seven skill level. In additional to maintenance training, the MTF also administers ancillary training and teaches Self Aid and Buddy Care, cardio pulmonary resuscitation and fire-extinguisher training, just to name a few.

Programs & Resources Flight
The programs and resources flight is staffed by a cross section of maintenance managers from AMXS, MXS and MOS. Their small numbers produce big results as they manage manning, facilities, security, support agreements and the unit deployment process for the entire group. Their efforts assure all 600-plus MXG Airmen are deployable worldwide, at a moment's notice.

When all the moving pieces of the 86th Maintenance Group come together, it is an impressive machine that keeps the 86th Airlift Wing soaring to new heights.