Friday, March 11, 2016

TOP STORY >> Into the deep: Ensuring air-mobility forces ready

BY Airman 1st Class Mercedes Taylor
19th Airlift Wing

Every day, aircraft from Little Rock soar through the skies and provide combat airlift around the world. One of the last things the aircrew needs is a defective fuel system.

Long hours, constant fuel tank repairs and the smell of jet fuel make up a typical day for the maintainers of the 19th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems repair section. 

“Our job is invaluable to Combat Airlift,” said Master Sgt. Sed Bell, 19th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems section chief. “If we don’t ensure the aircraft fuel systems are in top condition, then we can’t guarantee that we can launch the aircraft.” 

Although it’s a potentially dangerous job, the Airmen of the aircraft fuel systems repair section are needed to keep Little Rock’s C-130 fleet in perfect flying condition. The dirty job entails donning proper protective gear and descending into the deep darkness of the fuel tank.

“Depending on the job, someone could be in-tank for just one hour or several hours at a time,” U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jesse Tokarczyk, 19th Maintenance Squadron fuel system repair craftsman. “On average, a person could spend one to two hours in-tank.”  

Safety is one of fuel systems’ top priorities. Following the proper technical orders also plays a huge role in the repairs Airmen make. The job also requires safety coordination with the base fire department and the maintenance operations center. 

“We follow procedures to ensure that the work being performed is done properly” Tokarczyk said. “One wrong move could potentially injure or kill someone.”

The section also works with other flights in the 19th MXS along with various units throughout the base.  Attention to detail and excellence are the standard for their job. By maintaining the fleet, the Airmen are preparing the mobility forces for tomorrow. 

“This team of professionals learn and understand every aspect of the fuel systems of an aircraft,” Bell said. “We’re a vital part of a bigger picture and that picture has no room for error.”

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