Aircraft Receives In-depth Inspection
By Staff Sgt. Michael Matkin, 161 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published October 02, 2011
Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base -- During October's UTA servicemembers from the 161st Maintenance Group continued working on a KC-135 Stratotanker, assigned to crew chief Tech Sgt. Billy Kelley.
The Aircraft had recently returned from programmed depot maintenance at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. PDM is a more invasive form of maintenance in which the aircraft is stripped down to the frame; everything is scrutinized and taken apart to make sure it passes rigorous standards. This in-depth maintenance increases the lifespan of the heavily-relied upon KC-135 Stratotanker and ensures personnel safety.
"The aircraft is usually down for about six months depending on the severity of the corrosion on the aircraft; however, our aircraft came back a little sooner as it only had a few write-ups," said Sergeant Kelley.
When the aircraft returns from PDM an acceptance inspection is completed by servicemembers of the 161 MXG. If there are any issues they are corrected and reported back to PDM officials.
When Sergeant Kelley's aircraft was returned, a fuel leak was discovered, as well as a problem with the spoiler, which is what the servicemembers were working on this UTA.
The aircraft's engines were also being inspected and worked on this UTA since the engines are the only part of the aircraft that is not put through the rigorous overhaul at PDM - this maintenance is done at home station.
"During the engine maintenance we found a problem with the exciter box," said Tech Sgt. Billy Ekadis 161 MXG engine mechanic. "The exciter box wasn't igniting, so we removed the box and found that the igniter was bad."
The exciter box is essentially a spark plug for the aircraft - it ignites the air fuel mixture.
He said having the opportunity to work on the exciter box was a good experience, as it had been a few years since they had last fixed one.
"This is what the engine shop is all about and we love working on them," he added.
Sergeant Kelley said that because of the Air National Guard's dedicated crew chief program, when the aircraft is out for PDM, the maintenance crew assigned to it feels its loss on a personal level.
"Having an aircraft go through PDM is very important and it is nice that it receives a new paint job and the new floors, but our crew is glad to have our aircraft back," said Sergeant Kelley.