Equipped to refuel: AFE saves lives

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The 22nd Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment Airmen provide and maintain safety and survival gear for aircrew and aircraft here to allow aircrews to have confidence in their equipment.

The goal of aircrew flight equipment is to give aircrews a sense of safety while conducting missions.

“We do what we have to do to make sure our crew members can go out and do their mission successfully,” said Senior Airman Jordon Porter, 22nd OSS AFE technician. “We’re behind the scenes taking care of their equipment to make sure that if anything happens, they’re taken care of and they can come back home to their families and loved ones.”

To help enable the air refueling mission, there are two main shops where AFE Airmen work and a third shop that trains AFE Airmen and crew members on aircrew contamination control area procedures.

In the case of chemical attacks, aircrews are brushed down and cleaned up at the ACCA.

The first operational AFE shop maintains flight helmets, masks, night vision goggles, eye protection and chemical gear. They provide aircrew with fitted helmets and check for small defects that may make the equipment faulty.

“We’re looking for even the smallest holes, scratches or tears that could potentially injure someone or endanger a life,” said Porter.

The other shop works on equipment that is installed on the aircraft. This equipment includes quick-don oxygen masks, life rafts, inner and outer accessory kits, radios, flares, compasses, survival vests, body armor, emergency passenger oxygen system, life preserver vests, protective clothing kits and other equipment that might be needed for a hazardous situation.

“It’s important for us to make sure that all of the equipment, survival gear and life-sustaining gear on the aircraft is in working order,” Samson said. “That’s something that we take seriously to ensure that these aircrew members and any passengers on the aircraft come back safely so they can fight another day.”