JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
Airmen and leadership of the 62nd Maintenance Squadron (62nd MXS) here integrated a new schedule and framework for conducting home station checks (HSCs), March 24.
When the 62nd Airlift Wing changed to mission-essential manning to limit the spread of COVID-19, some people stopped physically coming into work, but members of the 62nd MXS can’t take their work home with them.
Home station checks occur every 180 days for a C-17 Globemaster III, during which the aircraft undergoes a thorough safety and functionality inspection. If they are not completed on time, the aircraft can be grounded.
“When these aircraft are brought back [to the hangar], an inspection is done from nose to tail,” said Staff Sgt. Channing Mandell, 62nd MXS repair and reclamation journeyman. “Once here we have an inspection phase where we’re able to identify things that may have been missed while the aircraft was in service. It’s not where you’re just inspecting something to make sure it is serviceable for flight, these aircraft go through routine and major repairs.”
When the wing went to minimal manning, the HSC maintenance flight, along with accessories and fabrication flights, integrated a new schedule and personnel framework to comply with social distancing and limit the potential spread of COVID-19 while ensuring no loss to the mission.
“The main thing that’s changed since the base went to mission essential is the number of days and hours,” said Airman 1st Class Brockway Blodgett, 62nd MXS crew chief. “Usually we work five days on and two days off, the two days would be the weekend, but now it’s switched to four on four off, it doesn’t matter what days of the week.”
The schedule features a two-team approach where each team is assigned an aircraft to work on so there is no overlap of the two teams.
“The HSCs are scheduled back-to-back, which has allowed for a consistent workload and cut down our workforce per shift by 50 percent, limiting our Airmen’s exposure to the virus,” said 1st Lt. Kristina O’Sullivan, 62nd MXS flight commander. “We have 139 individuals and are the largest flight within 62nd MXS, so limiting our exposure presented a more difficult challenge. However, the original plan had us completing one or two HSCs a week and now we complete an HSC every four days.”
With this new structure not as many people are working at one time, but Airmen in the HSC shop have been able to facilitate all of the HSCs and maintenance requirements in a more efficient way than before.
“The Airmen here take pride in the fact that we can turn a full jet inspection around in four days, and they should,” said Senior Master Sgt. John Williams, 62nd MXS Maintenance flight chief. “They said it couldn’t be done, but then guess what? We’re doing it.”