Trial All-Systems maintenance program takes off at Joint Base

  • Published
  • By Christian Deluca
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

The test run of a program that may change the way maintainers do business is currently underway at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Presently, maintainers are trained and qualified to work on only certain components of an aircraft. Positions are broken down into specialties such as hydraulics technicians, or avionics techs, ect. This program, championed by Col. Brian Daniels, 305th Maintenance Group commander and Chief Master Sgt. John Elstrom, former 305th MXG command chief (ret.), would provide maintainers with an all-systems training allowing them to work on any aspect of the aircraft.

“The biggest benefit of this would be a huge increase in efficiency,” said Master Sgt. David Shartzer, 514th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight chief with the 514th Air Mobility Wing. “You wouldn’t have to go on a manning hold because you don’t have enough hydraulics troops to cover the workload, for example. When all your maintainers are all-systems trained, you are utilizing your manpower to its fullest capacity.”

After Daniels and Elstrom sold the idea to Air Mobility Command, they brought Shartzer, a Reserve Citizen Airman, on-board because of his civilian experience as an aircraft maintenance supervisor with a major commercial airline.

According to Shartzer, most commercial airlines already operate this way, requiring their technicians to get an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license that shows their proficiency on all aspects of an aircraft.

“On the civilian side, an A&P mechanic can come in one day and have a simple service check or a tire change. The next night they can trouble shoot an engine bleed issue or an autopilot problem,” Shartzer said. “It’s much more efficient than the stovepipe career fields we have in the Air Force now.”

The program would put maintainers who already have their A&P license through an aircraft familiarization course and then set them up with aircraft to maintain.

In the test phase, nine maintainers from active duty and the Reserve went through an aircraft familiarization course for the KC-10 Extender and are currently maintaining a KC-10 on a three-shift schedule.

With feedback from the initial run and support from higher command, the base maintenance groups hope to implement the program on a larger scale in the future, bringing AMC maintainers here for a six-month time frame to see if the all-systems program would be a good fit for the Air Force.