436th AMXS launches and recovers aircraft for ORI

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman James Bolinger
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
It takes a lot of maintenance to keep a C-5 Galaxy in the air, supporting warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The job of providing safe, reliable C-5s for Dover's pilots to fly is left up to the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

AMXS generates every jet on base, processes its own cargo and people. Every jet must be inspected and prepared; vehicles, fire bottles and tools must be palletized, all before a single aircraft takes off for a deployed location or an operational readiness inspection.

"We have practiced this five times already and are getting better and better," said Chief Master Sgt. Jon Lynn, 436th AMXS maintenance superintendent,

During the deployment phase of the inspection, AMXS Airmen will launch, recover and fix jets while performing ability to survive and operate procedures during simulated attacks.

"We have practiced all phases of the ORI a lot," said Chief Lynn. "We've gone over all our major processes, and mandates to ensure we are compliant and knowledgeable when the time comes."

The 436th Maintenance Group and individual squadrons, including the 436th AMXS, have held several ATSO training sessions a month while preparing for the ORI.

"The Airmen who are participating practice launching and recovering jets in and out of chemical gear, using only the equipment they will deploy with," he said. "At first we found many items that needed to be added to the deployed kits, but now we are confident we have everything."

According to the chief, timelines and action plans have been the most useful tools for AMXS as they prepared their people for the ORI.

"We hold weekly squadron and group ORI meetings," said Chief Lynn. "During each of these meetings, there are numerous great ideas brought up. We discuss them and add them to the action plans. Then about one month out, we created a timeline documenting every preparation action that needed to be done so we are 100 percent ready when the IG arrives.

"Without this documentation plan, many things would have been forgotten or missed," he said.

Some of the challenges the 436th AMXS faced included everything from not enough of the right equipment, to not enough qualified members.

"We had to do a 100 percent shakedown of everything we needed for the ORI," said Chief Lynn. "We just systematically went through and identified what and who we needed for every process in the ORI."

To solve the problem, the squadron ordered equipment, trained Airmen, and held numerous briefings and table top exercises to ensure everyone knew what needed to be done.

"In addition to training and briefings, we created cell managers and aircraft managers for the home-station generation," said Chief Lynn. "The aircraft managers control the jet and all aspects of generating and launching them to the deployment.

"The cell managers control three to four aircraft at a time, ensuring safety, maintenance, and keeping to the generation and launch schedule," he said.

In AMXS all aircraft mechanics, crew chiefs and specialists alike, are 100 percent responsible for the safety and cleanliness of all jets, said the chief. Everyone has been working side-by-side getting the jets ready.

Busy doesn't begin to describe the day-to-day operation of an aircraft maintenance squadron.

"Between deployment rotations, real-world and training launches, and monthly exercises we've been very busy," said the chief. "Once we identified the required training and the personnel that required the training, we then had to schedule it. We revised our duty schedule to allow an overlap of personnel two days a week.

"This change also allowed us to marry up trainers with trainees on a regular basis as the prior cascading schedule did not allow for this continuity, "said Chief Lynn.

The squadron held numerous in-house training sessions on the days that had an overlap, allowing every possible person to attend.

"The MXG training folks really helped out with long-range scheduling of classes," he said. "The (Maintenance Qualifications Training Program) offered to accelerate class schedules so that we could get our mechanics trained before the ORI.

The 436th AMXS faces a unique challenge only felt by Air Force maintainers who fix the C-5 Galaxy.

"We work 24/7 preparing and fixing these jets," said Chief Lynn. "(The C-5) is very complex and old. It takes much more time to repair the systems or structures of this jet than most jets in the Air Force inventory.

"Each structural repair takes a minimum of 36 hours," he said. "Just the shear size of the jet adds hours more to every repair that is needed, compared to smaller jets. We use more stands and personnel than any other airframe in (Air Mobility Command)."

Despite the massive effort it takes to prepare a C-5 and a C-5 aircraft maintenance squadron for an inspection, Chief Lynn said the 436th AMXS has persevered.

"We've changed our culture and we've changed our attitudes," said Chief Lynn. "It was tough to get to where we are today, but you can ask anyone in the MXG if we are ready, and the answer will be 'Yes!'"