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Congressional commission gathers McChord mishap data

Members of the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) observe a C-17 Globemaster III inside a hangar on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., Jan. 7, 2020. The NCMAS visited JBLM to assess and gather information on the full range of manning, training and equipment issues associated with aviation safety.

Members of the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) observe a C-17 Globemaster III inside a hangar on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., Jan. 7, 2020. The NCMAS visited JBLM to assess and gather information on the full range of manning, training and equipment issues associated with aviation safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

Retired Gen. Raymond Johns, National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) committee member and former 62nd Airlift Wing commander, remembers the photos of when the precision equipment meaurement lap (PMEL) bulding was being built many years ago on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., Jan 7, 2020. Members of the NCMAS visited JBLM to assess the capabilities and obstacles Airmen face in day-to-day operations to maintain McChord’s aircraft capability.

Retired Gen. Raymond Johns, National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) committee member and former 62nd Airlift Wing commander, remembers the photos of when the precision equipment meaurement lap (PMEL) bulding was being built many years ago on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., Jan 7, 2020. Members of the NCMAS visited JBLM to assess the capabilities and obstacles Airmen face in day-to-day operations to maintain McChord’s aircraft capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

Col. Eliot Sasson, 62nd Maintenance Group commander, far left, speaks with members of the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) inside the precision equipment measurement lab on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., Jan. 7, 2020. While at JBLM, the NCMAS participated in discussion forums with base leadership, as well as junior enlisted from both McChord’s maintenance and operations units, to better understand their daily challenges and how to improve aviation safety and readiness.

Col. Eliot Sasson, 62nd Maintenance Group commander, far left, speaks with members of the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) inside the precision equipment measurement lab on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., Jan. 7, 2020. While at JBLM, the NCMAS participated in discussion forums with base leadership, as well as junior enlisted from both McChord’s maintenance and operations units, to better understand their daily challenges and how to improve aviation safety and readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., --

The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) visited the 62nd Airlift Wing (AW) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Jan. 7, 2020, as part of their review of military aviation mishaps occurring in the last five years to reveal and analyze trends, identify shortcomings and highlight best practices.

The purpose and goal of the NCMAS is to examine past mishaps and make recommendations to congress and the defense department on ways to improve aviation safety and readiness in the military.

The commission has visited more than 100 U.S. military units as part of their initial phase of data collection and listening.

“McChord represents one of the critical enabling missions of airlift,” said retired Gen. Raymond Johns, NCMAS committee member and former 62nd Airlift Wing (AW) commander. “Within McChord, you have everything from combat airlift to the prime nuclear airlift mission … It’s a unique capability and helps us see the variety that exists in military aviation.”

With the role McChord plays in global mobility, the NCMAS made sure that JBLM was a stop during their information gathering phase.

“We heard honesty and sincerity from the Airmen who generate and fly the aircraft,” Johns said. “We heard about the tasks and the commitment it takes to execute the mission."

Another item the commission reviewed was how leadership manages and modulates the high amount of taskings and their efforts to prevent burnout.

“The dedication is very strong, but it is still apparent that there is a price to pay,” Johns said. “Airmen step up to the plate, but it takes a toll on them and their families because the tasks seem to be unrelenting.”

However, they highlighted the partnership between the 62nd AW and the 446th AW, McChord’s Air Reserve unit component, and the value of it.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a stronger relationship between the active and reserve components at an installation like this,” said Bryan Whitman, director of public affairs for the NCMAS.

The reserves have tenure and experience that helps establish a foundation that enables all of McChord to generate the airpower that it does.

“In some ways, the active duty come and go, but you have that contingency of the reserve wing, and the commitment between the active and the reserve operations and maintenance is very strong,” Johns said.

While here, the commission members were part of discussion forums with base leadership, as well as junior enlisted from both McChord’s maintenance and operations units. The goal was to better understand their daily challenges and how to improve aviation safety and readiness.

With the increase in military aviation mishaps over the last five years, the NCMAS is focused on assessing everything involved in the ability to execute the mission and do it safely.

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