February 18, 2010 (by A1C Allison M. Boehm) - Turning wrenches, fixing leaks and replacing tires--no maintenance issue goes overlooked when the performance of a multi-million fighter jet is at stake.
The non-stop tasks of a crew chief help ensure the safety and mission readiness of each aircraft on JBB. Whether an aircraft requires refuelling, a tire change or a precise inspection, crew chiefs are specially trained to tackle any problem to so the jet remains secure and reliable.
"We have to ensure our jets are mission ready," said Senior Airman Travis Franklin, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. "There are troops on the ground depending on our air support-- we have to be able to fix these jets efficiently and effectively so we can get the F-16s back off the ground and meeting mission requirements."
Although the crew chiefs are responsible for the overall maintenance of the jets, a lot more goes into guaranteeing that the F-16s are operational for every mission.
"Crew Chief's are an integral part of our day-to-day operation," said Capt. Danny Hull, 121st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot. "They ensure the jets are in perfect working order before each and every mission, giving us pilots the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Because of their expertise and dedication to the mission, we entrust our lives to them every day. Without them the mission wouldn't get done, period."
With more than 100 technical orders to follow, crew chiefs must know their aircraft inside out. Whether the maintenance requires servicing, fuel checks or inspections, they know how to fix the problem or what speciality shop to bring in to get the aircraft ready to fly at any time. Regardless of who does the actual work, a crew chief is responsible for the finished product.
With the success of each aircraft' s mission on the line, crew chiefs must operate proficiently and in a timely manner. Depending on the problem, maintenance can range from 30 minutes to several hours, however, they must operate by the books regardless of time constraints.
"We don't want to put a time limit on any maintenance--it could be very dangerous," said Tech. Sgt. Juan Carlos Rodriguez, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. " We have to make sure we don't get in a hurry. The repairs need to be fast, but we must take the time to do it right and by the (technical order). It is critical to the safety of the aircraft and the pilot."
Still, the work completed by these jack-of-all-trades Airmen provide mission capable aircraft for pilots so they can provide air support, serving as a vital role in the overall JBB mission.