Maintainers go above when the temperatures are below
By Staff Sgt. Lindsey Soulsby, 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published January 28, 2016
GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Winter in Montana can be brutal, with temperatures below zero. Snow, ice and a wind chill will make anyone want to stay warm inside. The C-130 Hercules transport aircraft brings maintainers of the 120th Airlift Maintenance Squadron outside regularly.
Most recently a C-130 required a Home Station Check. This was the first maintenance check to be performed on station in the elements without the use of a hangar.
This HSC was performed in six days. This record tied the fastest inspection the 120th performed during the summer of 2015.
"Weather plays a big role in slowing down maintenance. Plus the aerospace ground equipment can be pretty temperamental at below zero temperatures too," Aerospace Propulsion Work Leader Tech. Sgt. Sean R. Murray said.
The 10 day scheduled maintenance inspection would ideally be performed inside of a hangar. But the maintainers have maintained a good attitude considering the cold weather situation.
"We're just dealing with the hand that we were dealt," Isochronal Inspection Dock Work Leader Master Sgt. Tachie Navarro said. "We all know it needs to be done and it's a challenge. Everybody welcomed it, saw it as a challenge and took it head on to knock it out."
The temperatures dropped later in the inspection and most tasks were completed in the first few days.
"It added more incentive for people to get it done quicker especially when the weather was better earlier in the week," Navarro said.
Approximately 450 tasks need to be completed in a HSC inspection by the isochronal inspection dock, flightline, repair and reclamation, communication and navigation, electronic countermeasures, fuels, hydraulics, sheet metal, non-destructive inspection as needed and engine shop, which was the biggest driver.
"Most of the time we can do our job with our garments on, except for the gloves," Murray said. "Gloves are probably one of the worst things because in order to have the dexterity for safety wire you have to take the gloves off."
Gloveless hands make cold maintenance a struggle but maintainers have found ways to keep their appendages warm.
"We literally strapped heater hoses to the stands to keep our toes warm while we were working on it," Navarro said.
HSC inspections are also known as midway inspections and are completed every 270 days. This aircraft will not be due for a new HSC inspection for another nine months.
"We've become acclimated to it but you have to constantly be on mental edge and sharpness," Murray said. "It's just remembering all the maintenance outside is physically vexing mentally and physically the job duration and complexity makes the job (seem to) go on forever," Murray said.
Regardless of the weather conditions aircraft maintenance is still required. With tentative completion dates for construction projects for the main hangar Nov. 6, 2016 and the fuel cell and corrosion control hangar Feb. 22, 2017, the 120th Airlift Wing maintainers will continue to keep going above and beyond while the temperatures sink below zero.