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McConnell begins familiarization period with KC-46

22 ARW

A KC-46A Pegasus flies over the flightline during their initial approach Jan. 25, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The larger platform will be able to provide refueling capabilities to fixed-wing receiver capable aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Since the arrival of the first KC-46A Pegasus, McConnell has been familiarizing several units on base with the new aircraft.

“The familiarization period is a time that is allocated to our units once the aircraft arrives,” said Senior Master Sgt. Ian Evans, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron green aircraft maintenance unit lead production superintendent. “It allows the maintainers and the base to familiarize themselves with the aircraft as we have never worked on this aircraft before. It gives us an opportunity to fly, fix and work through the aircraft before initial operational tests and evaluations start.”

Along with the 22nd Maintenance Group, the 22nd Security Forces Squadron, the 22nd Medical Group and McConnell’s fire department have been able to get hands-on experience with the KC-46.

“Maintenance has a huge part in the familiarization period because we have to maintain and tow the aircraft,” said Evans. “The majority of the maintainers have received Type-1 training in Seattle, so they have the basic feel and understanding of the aircraft and what it can do. [At the time], the aircraft was owned by Boeing, so we weren’t able to do everything we wanted to, so this is an opportunity for maintenance to become [more] proficient on the aircraft.”

Evans explained that there is an acceptance inspection that is needed to be completed after the arrival of the aircraft. Maintainers perform operational checks, review serial numbers, inspect for defects and ensure the jet runs correctly.

“Prior to the familiarization period, we prioritized different agencies across base and decided who needed to be on the aircraft and when,” said Evans. “We had to have the fire department out there right away so they would know how to respond and board the aircraft.”

McConnell’s fire department has been developing an aircraft pre-fire plan since the KC-46 arrived.

“The [pre-fire plan] outlines the department’s procedures during an in-flight or ground emergency with or without fire,” said Greg Godfrey, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron lead firefighter. “To develop that plan, we need to go out to the plane itself and get hands-on.”

Godfrey explained that they concentrated on shut-down procedures, and how to enter the aircraft and get people out, and identify any hazards that could occur if there was a fire.

“Now that we wrote the [plan], we need to go out and practice it,” said Godfrey.

As the familiarization period plays through, each agency that is needed to be introduced will have time to get hands-on experience with the KC-46. The combined efforts of McConnell’s units will increase the preparedness and readiness of Airmen involved with Air Force’s newest addition to its strategic arsenal.