ISO Inspections: Keeping Planes Flying

Airmen from the 914th Maintenance Group reattach a propeller to an engine of a C-130 Hercules aircraft March 3, 2016 at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. The aircraft underwent a routine inspection as part of required maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Mekkri/released)

Airmen from the 914th Maintenance Group reattach a propeller to an engine of a C-130 Hercules aircraft March 3, 2016 at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. The aircraft underwent a routine inspection as part of required maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Mekkri/released)

NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION --

Every 540 days, the aircraft from Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station’s workhorse fleet, the C130 Hercules, are towed into a hangar on base for inspection. A thorough analysis is performed and, depending on the findings, planes may be stripped to the bone. Panels are removed, engines taken apart, propellers detached, noses lifted, wires checked, and tires taken away. The planes are then meticulously bolted, screwed, greased, rewired and tested before being returned to mission capable status.

The process must be completed within a mere 21 days.

“This is where all your heavy, in-depth maintenance occurs that doesn’t happen on a regular basis,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tammy Jones, Support Flight Chief, 914th Airlift Wing Maintenance Group.

One such inspection took place over the course of 21 days in March here on base.

The isochronal, or ISO, inspection is performed along with a 270 day home station check. These evaluations ensure that the decades-old C-130 Hercules aircraft are in top shape for flight.

“With what our mission is with the C-130 and what it does and where it goes, that plane is put under a lot of stress,” said Jones.  “Parts fail. We know that. This is a chance for us to identify that before anything major happens.”

Although the planes may be older than most of the specialists who work on them, it doesn’t stop the pride that some of them feel.

“I love doing it,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan J. Snyder, Aerospace Propulsion Technician with the 914th Maintenance Squadron.  “I get to come to work and fix jet engines every day.”

Maintaining planes is something that Snyder has been doing for 9 years but it won’t be something that he does forever. He obtained his Community College of the Air Force degree in January 2016 and his goal is now set toward completing a degree at Buffalo State.

“I’ll finish my engineering degree and go upward from there,” Snyder said.

The inspections require over 20 mechanics, machinists, electricians and hydraulic, sheet metal and fuel technicians from more than 8 shops to complete.

“We’ve got a great group of guys we work with here”, Snyder said.

That sentiment is also felt by Master Sgt. Jones.

“I think we have the best maintenance units out there,” said Jones. “I want to give the guys the credit where the credit is due, they’re the ones out the working the plane every single day.”