MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
Maintenance Repair Teams allow specialized teams of Airmen to respond to KC-135 Stratotankers that are off-station and aren’t fit to fly.
“As the aircraft get older, things break more often,” said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Thompson, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief manager. “If a discrepancy is noticed during a previous flight or during an inspection that makes it unsafe for flight, it must be corrected.”
Most KC-135 crews consist of five people: the pilot, co-pilot, boom operator, flying crew chief and assistant flying crew chief. The crew chiefs are responsible for performing pre-flight inspections and any needed repairs on the aircraft.
Sometimes when an aircraft needs repairs, the crew’s FCC and AFCC may not have the materials or manpower required to do the job. It’s at this point that an MRT is called.
“If it is outside the scope of their training or the required tools or parts are not available, an MRT is requested through the Tanker Airlift Control Center or the aircraft’s home station to bring required personnel, tools or support equipment to fix the discrepancy,” said Thompson.
After an MRT is requested, the TACC looks at all bases that have the resources needed and tasks one of them to prepare a team.“Personnel depart their home station with tools, parts and equipment ready to work the issue,” said Thompson. “They work 12 hours on and eight hours off until all discrepancies are corrected and the aircraft is airworthy again.”
Specific Airmen are chosen to be part of the MRT based on the qualifications needed to accomplish the mission.
Senior Airman Jared McClure, 22nd AMXS KC-135 aerospace instrument and flight journeyman, recently went on his first MRT mission to help repair an aircraft with a navigation problem.
“It’s pretty much just like day-to-day operations here; we’re just doing it at another base,” said McClure. “Normally, [the aircraft] are not at a KC-135 base, so that’s why we go. We take the parts we need and fix whatever is broken so we can bring it home.”
Being part of an MRT helps Airmen learn new skills and gives them new experiences they otherwise might not get.
“I think it’s really rewarding for the individuals who go because they get to see a little bit of what’s going on at other places around the world,” said McClure. “It’s definitely worth it and fun to do.”
McConnell Airmen not only respond to MRT needs for the aircraft assigned here, but to KC-135s from other bases as well. Over the past two years, more than 120 McConnell Airmen were dispatched to repair more than 50 aircraft from bases all over the country. By doing this, the MRTs fulfilled the 22nd Air Refueling Wing’s mission and supported the Air Force mission around the world.