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.