Air Force

August 10, 2012

Team puts aircrew safety first

Tags:
by Senior Airman C.J. Hatch
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Renee Converse, 56th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment craftsman, torques the set screws to finish installing the upper helmet vehicle interface at the Aircrew Flight Equipment back shop.

Before every flight takes off, before every pilot steps in an aircraft and even before a student arrives at Luke Air Force Base, a team of professionals makes sure they will be as safe as possible.

The men and women of three of 56th Operations Support Squadron sections are dedicated to this mission — the aircrew helmet section, parachute section and the survival pack section.

FROM LEFT: Senior Airmen Michael Beard and Derek Baskin, 56th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment journeymen, inspect the cords attached to a parachute. The chutes packed here are part of F-16 Fighting Falcon survival kits and are examined regularly.

“The primary mission of the aircrew helmet section is to ensure that instructor pilots and students have the necessary helmet-mounted devices to perform their mission,” said Staff Sgt. Renee Converse, 56th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment craftsman.

The helmet section covers everything that can attach to the helmet, including the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing Systems, night vision goggles and CRU-60s, which are oxygen supply adapters. The NVGs and CRU-60s are quick and can be handled in about 15 minutes; the JHMCS, however, take much longer.

“JHMCS fittings are the most time consuming,” Converse said. “On average it takes two hours to properly fit the helmet, mask and custom visor to the pilot. To build up a JHMCS helmet before the fitting takes 30 to 45 minutes, and to fit someone with a regular 55/P fighter helmet takes 60 to 90 minutes.”

To get the helmet right the members of the section must drill, glue, size, install and cure the helmet. Once complete the helmet is given to the pilot for whom it was fitted.

“Most people don’t know that the entire JHMCS helmet assembly costs $150,000,” Converse said. “This includes the JHMCS helmet, upper helmet vehicle interface, display unit and visor. It’s quite unnerving when you first start working on it because one tiny scratch makes a $2,000 to $4,000 visor worthless.”

The helmet can keep a pilots head from injury and keep their oxygen mask and radio on. But if there is a serious aircraft incident the parachute team becomes the pilot’s best friend.

Staff Sgt. Branden Rowe, 56th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment continuation trainer, assists Capt. Patrick Kennedy, 309th Fighter Squadron weapons and tactics chief, into the post-ejection hanger. The post-ejection hanger acquaints the pilot with the sensation of hanging from a parachute.

“The primary mission of the parachute section is to inspect, repair, maintain and pack parachute systems,” said Staff Sgt. Marianne Hebreo, 56th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment craftsman. “We have the Advanced Concept Ejection Seat parachutes for pilot recovery and the drogue parachutes, which stabilize the seat after an ejection.”

Parachutes are put together at the Aircrew Flight Equipment section and the installation of equipment is completed by the emergency global rescue, escape and survival systems section.

“These parachutes are essential to the survival of the aircrew if they have to eject,” Hebreo said. “Those stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., also handle a U-2 pilot’s full pressure suit, which is similar to those used by astronauts. Every installation requires familiarization with new equipment depending on the airframe such as fighters, C-40 passenger planes, cargo jets, bombers and helicopters.”

After using the parachute the last section’s efforts come to the aid of the pilots.

“The primary mission of the survival pack section is to ensure the safety of our F-16 fighter pilots,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Mallumaci, 56th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment craftsman. “We oversee advanced concept egress systems survival kits, one-man life rafts and life preservers.”

The survival kits include more than 20 survival items including: survival radio for communication, smoke signal flares, tourniquet, bags of water, survival and combat blankets, survival knife, flashlight, signal mirror, sea dye marker, whistle, medical kit, and a sleeping bag for cold-weather climates.

FROM LEFT: Staff Sgt. Andrew Mallumaci, 56th OSS survival kit section superintendent, performs an operations check on a radio while Senior Airman Johnathon Jordan, 56th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment journeyman, removes other seat kit items.

“Every kit contains a URT-44 beacon located on the outside,” Mallumaci said. “It sends a signal to help locate the pilot and aircraft. The one-man life raft requires an annual leakage test to ensure serviceability and it’s also located inside the kit and will automatically inflate upon ejection from the aircraft. The life preservers require an annual inspection and repack and are worn when flying over water.”

It takes the section an entire day to properly inspect and repack the survival kit.

“It’s extremely vital that we follow each and every step in our technical order manuals,” Mallumaci said. “Attention to detail is a must and perfection is our only standard.”

Senior Airman Johnathan Jordan, 56th Operations Support Squadron parachute rigger, removes seat kit items for inspection at Luke Air Force Base. The items in a survival kit are inspected once a year to replace batteries, remove old consumables and operations-check equipment.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
DT_JTC0216

Supreme allied commander comes home

Gen. Philip Breedlove, left, NATO supreme allied commander, Europe, visited Luke Air Force Base Sept. 12. Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, right, 56th Fighter Wing commander, briefed the general on Luke’s evolving mission to train F-3...
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

Command post chief averts potential disaster

Senior Airman Grace Lee Capt. George Normandin, 56th Fighter Wing Command Post chief, received the Aviation Safety Well Done Award Sept. 2, presented by Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th FW commander. Normandin took control of an F-...
 
 

You are what you eat

“You are what you eat.” This is a generic statement or a notion. It implies that if you eat healthy, you will be healthy. But how true is this in the world today? What we eat, drink, wear, drive and buy is often an attempt to construct a social identity. It lets others know who...
 

 

Knowledge equals power

The phrase “knowledge is power” is said to originate from Sir Francis Bacon in 1597. Personally, I remember learning the phrase from the old television show “School House Rock” theme song. The key idea behind the phrase is the more knowledge you accumulate, the more “power” you will have. Here is a simple breakdown: knowledge...
 
 
Senior Airman
MARCY COPELAND

EOD Airman changed for good by life experiences

Senior AirmanMARCY COPELAND Tech. Sgt. David Gerig’s, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team chief, first assignment after technical school was Kadena Air Base, Japan. The challenges in life are often w...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

CFC kick-off The 56th Fighter Wing Combined Federal Campaign kick-off charity fair is 9 a.m. Monday in Bldg. 1130 auditorium. Learn about the 2014 campaign ‘Serving Our Country. Supporting Our Community.’ and visit with local charities. For more information, call Maj. Jennifer Preyer-Bonton at 623-856-7144. Hispanic Heritage Month National Hispanic Heritage Month began Monday and...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin