914th Air Refueling Wing begins periodic inspection of KC-135

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kylar Vermeulen
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 914th Air Refueling Wing’s Maintenance Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are working on a 30-month periodic inspection (PE) of a KC-135 Stratotanker that recently returned from a deployment to Southwest Asia.

Like any other aircraft, the KC-135 is worn over time as it flies mission after mission. Every 30 months, it needs to be thoroughly inspected for damages, weathering, corrosion and more so that it can be repaired prior to its next flight.

“You’re taking a plane that has been flying for 30 months, and essentially you are breaking into it to fix the ins and outs so it can continue to be flown for extended periods of time,” said Staff Sgt. Nicolas Holt, a member of the 914th Maintenance Squadron. “If you want to call it anything, it's preventive maintenance, this way we can make sure everything is working properly.”

Now, how does the inspection flow?

The prep phase: The aircraft’s operating systems are tested pre-dock (before the aircraft is docked for further inspection and repairs) Following pre-dock inspection, the aircraft is then washed, dried, and de-paneled to expose predetermined inspection areas.

The inspection phase: Maintainers inspect the aircraft and the predetermined systems for cracks and fractures of material, rusting, loose wires and cables, mechanical processes that aren’t working properly, faulty electrical systems and more.

The fix phase: After proper identification, parts and systems are repaired, replaced and refurbished above standard to ensure that they serve their purpose in getting the aircraft in the sky to provide global mobility to the joint force.

Why it’s important: At the end of the day, our airmen need to be able to safely and effectively perform their duties. The souls on board, and other allied aircraft crews, rely on a well-functioning KC-135 to successfully provide strategic deterrence to the joint force.

“The inspection dock, ops [operations] and flightline are the blood vessels. All three have to work together in order to keep the body [the aircraft] alive,” Tech. Sgt. Joshua Carter, a crew chief with the 914th Maintenance Squadron stated. “The better we are at this inspection, the better we will be able to perform our mission."