TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Recently, Air Mobility Command requested the hydraulics sections and the back shops, which focus on repair and maintenance, for each of the three airframes at Travis Air Force Base, California, be consolidated into one.
The hydraulics sections inspect, test and service hydraulic and aerial refueling components on the KC-10 Extender, C-17 Globemaster III and the C-5M Super Galaxy.
“Travis is the only base in AMC that has three different aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Bobby McCorkel, 60th Maintenance Squadron hydraulics section chief. “Typically, you have a KC-10 troop and they only know the KC-10. Now they are having to cross utilization train on two other airframes. So, those KC-10 Airmen have to get spun up on the C-17 as well as the C-5.”
Beginning in October 2015, the 60th Maintenance Squadron underwent a consolidation process within their hydraulics sections which combined the skills of the 660th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, KC-10 hydraulics, 860th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, C-17 hydraulics, 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, C-5M hydraulics and the 60th Maintenance Squadron back shop, under one roof.
“We went from small shops to 71 total Airmen,” said McCorkel. “This is meant to save time and money, and it has. What hasn’t changed is our ops tempo. Our deployments are still there and our maintenance recovery teams, who fix our aircraft that need servicing in other locations, are deployed as well.”
The transition has been the first shift of this size for the maintenance squadron.
“We had to pretty much start from scratch,” said Tech. Sgt. Larry Brickner, 60th MXS composite tool kit NCO in-charge. “There are different guidelines depending on where you work, so I had to look at everyone’s procedures and redo everything including making brand new toolboxes that combine the more than 5,000 different tools and parts from three aircraft toolboxes into one.”
Training Airmen, who are used to one aircraft, on all three has been a learning curve but has proven beneficial.
“It was a slow process at first trying to figure out how all the airframes are different,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Eickhoff, 60th MXS hydraulics technician. “As we got to work on the other aircraft, we gained more experience and it’s become a lot easier.”
In addition to training on three new airframes, Airmen also gained insight to the process of essentially building a new squadron from the ground up.
“It has been a good growing process,” said Brickner. “We had the right people in the right positions to make it a lot smoother. As hydraulic mechanics, the consolidation is better for us because we get more experience on different airframes and diversity of the job with exposure to different aircraft parts. Now, our guys train right out the gate and it helps them to learn how to trouble shoot and work smarter.
“With this consolidation, I, personally, have learned a lot of new things like how purchasing works and how the Air Force contracts different things,” he added. “I got to learn way more about things that aren’t part of my normal scope. It actually made me a better NCO and better supervisor. Now I have more answers for anyone who has questions.”
The consolidation benefits Travis Air Force Base, the Airmen and the Air Force, as a whole.
“Travis is leading the way,” said McCorkel. “We have the most personnel, the most airframes to take care of and we are leading the way in AMC with consolidation. We are saving manpower, time and money by consolidating.”