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Measuring Up!!
Senior Airman Jeremiah Robinson, Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory journeyman, tests an altitude airspeed calibrator. The PMEL is preparing for an audit by the Air Force Metrology and Calibration Program Jan. 22 to Jan. 30. The audit will evaluate six categories including technicians’ competence, the quality system, facility and environment, and will certify the Air Force’s largest laboratory procedures and measurements for two more years. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Lindsey Hahn)
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PMEL ensures quality control in measurements

Posted 1/11/2007   Updated 1/11/2007 Email story   Print story

    


by 1st Lt. Lindsey Hahn
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


1/11/2007 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- What is 3-millionths of an inch anyway?

For the 60th Component Maintenance Squadron's Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment flight and the more than 235 work centers that use their expertise -- it could mean a lot.

Travis' Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory, which is preparing for an audit by the Air Force Metrology and Calibration Program Jan. 22 to Jan. 30, ensures that everything from "putting bombs on target to weighing babies" is accurate, said Master Sgt. John Dolley, Electrical Standards/Material Control supervisor.

The PMEL laboratory's 33 Airmen provide equipment repair and calibration to on- and off-base organizations from the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno, Calif., to the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field, Ore., and everywhere in between.

Every calibration conducted is traceable to national measurement standards through the Air Force Primary Standards Laboratory and tracks, tests and certifies more than 8,500 items in the region.

Accuracy, down to a millionth of an inch in some cases, is critical.

"For example, technicians calibrate the equipment used to gauge our aircraft's tire pressure," said Master Sgt. Allen Markovich, PMEL chief. "When thousands of pounds are landing on those tires an inaccurate measurement could cause a major problem."
The PMEL doesn't strictly work on flightline equipment though.

"The communications squadron and David Grant U.S.A.F. Medical Center are major customers of ours," said Sergeant Markovich.

"Anything that produces a qualitative or quantitative result is handled by us," said Sergeant Dolley. "We even calibrate boresight equipment used to align guns on the F-16s to ensure pilots are able to hit targets."

Their calibrations, along with the calibrations of the 77 PMELs in the Air Force, are based on the AFPSL's calculations, with an extremely small margin of error, in order to ensure accuracy across the Air Force.

The technicians rotate through three different sections, physical dimensional, wave-form analysis and electrical standards, in order to maintain their training gained through their 9-month technical training at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.

"Calibrations can get a bit monotonous at times," said Senior Airman Rolando Mota, PMEL Journeyman. "But every time we move sections or start on a different type of equipment it feels like a new challenge."

The Physical Dimensional section measures and calibrates any measurement device that has a physical property, for example: weight, pressure, force, flow, torque, angles, length and temperature.

The Wave-Form Analysis section measures radio frequency transmitting and receiving equipment.

Finally, the Electrical Standards section is responsible for measuring voltage, current, light and inductance.

The inspection will evaluate six categories including technicians' competence, the quality system, facility and environment, and will certify the Air Force's largest laboratory procedures and measurements for two more years.



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