62nd MXS PMEL flight maintains standard of perfection

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • Staff writer
Something as simple as an over-tightened or loose bolt can bring down a flying aircraft; an under- or over-inflated aircraft tire can explode and cause damage to personnel and equipment; and a radio tuned to the incorrect frequency can be the difference between identifying friends or foes. 

With such a minuscule margin of error separating the positive and negative outcomes of daily operations at McChord, the 62nd Maintenance Squadron's precision measurement equipment laboratory provides exact calibration of test, measurement and diagnostic equipment to 86 work centers on McChord and 122 military units throughout the Northwest. 

It all works out to a little more than 6,900 items that the section supports -- of which 55 percent comes from the wing, said Tech. Sgt. Mike Krogemann, 62nd MXS PMEL quality assurance program manager.
The work includes preventative maintenance and calibration on everything from torque wrenches, voltage meters and tire pressure gauges to a multitude of tools that help calibrate aircraft instruments. 

While some adjustments made on equipment may only be minuscule in nature, the lab tries to keep things as close to perfection as humanly possible. 

"We're obsessed with small numbers because we have to be," said Tech. Sgt. Eric Rozzano, 62nd MXS. "We have to maintain the standard or else there can be a chain reaction (of deviation) down the line." 

Because a deviation from the industry standard can multiply under magnification and an instrument calibrated incorrectly can drift farther from being true over repeated uses, setting a higher standard than what is acceptable is what the shop strives for, ensuring weapons systems are exact and medical equipment remains safe. 

"We use the next step better than what our customers need," said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Weslow, 62nd MXS. 

The assurance of the quality of the shop's work comes from the traceability of the standards' accuracy to the National Institute of Standards & Technology. The traceability ensures that measurements made at any Air Force PMEL can be duplicated at any other PMEL throughout the world. It also ensures that all weapons systems perform accurately -- ultimately resulting in 'bombs on target' and safety of Air Force personnel. 

Working in a climate-controlled laboratory to provide ideal operating conditions, the section -- comprised of 25 Airmen and five civilians -- has a bevy of high-tech testing tools at its disposal. 

The lineup includes a slab of granite which is leveled to within 1/1,000,000th of an inch and a machine that inflates Kevlar bags underneath weights to simulate tension on a cable. Using the machines, the PMEL staff can then test and adjust tools under exact conditions. 

"We don't want any bad tools out there," said Staff Sgt. Douglas Pack, 62nd MXS. "If a throttle cable breaks, the plane can go down." 

But with tools that give maintainers exact readings and the section's constant pursuit to get as close to perfection as possible, the mission is in good hands. 

"We want to keep those birds in the sky," Sergeant Rozzano said. 

"The cohesive team in TMDE fl flight is awesome," said Maj. Jennifer Bernard, 62nd MXS commander. "Each Airman (civilian and military) knows the mission impact and critical nature of each item they work on."