Ever wonder how an aircraft stops when the brakes fail? What do you think a pilot does when he or she has two blown tires and is traveling at 85 knots before driving off the end of the runway?
The 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Power Production has the answer. They maintain Luke’s eight aircraft arresting systems that stop an aircraft in emergencies. They also maintain critical facility generators.
“We provide a safe landing for aircraft that may experience malfunctions upon take off and landing,” said Tech. Sgt. Moses Osborne, 56th CES electrical power production. “Our overall goal is exceptional customer service and flawless maintenance. Lives depend on us.”
Power production provides emergency support for all of Luke’s 138 F-16 aircraft and sorties flown totaling over 18,639 in fiscal 2012.
“The aircraft arresting system is an energy absorber,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Thorne, CES barrier maintenance shift leader. “The more energy or force that gets put into the system directly relates to the amount of energy the system will provide to stop the aircraft. Without the availability of these systems, in the case of an emergency, an aircraft will not be able to stop after it has landed.”
There are several scenarios in which aircraft experience emergencies.
A fighter or training aircraft may experience an in-flight emergency or ground emergency due to mechanical failure or pilot physiological complications. Most common emergencies are brake failure, anti-skid and blown tires.
Power production Airmen work three shifts – morning, day and swing shifts. Swing shifters work until the last 56th Fighter Wing aircraft is on the ground. They also provide around-the-clock emergency standby power to more than 30 critical facilities across the base. They provide power capability in times of emergency to include adverse weather conditions. In fact, generators are ready to start within seconds of a commercial power outage.
“Emergency standby power is accomplished through vigorous recurring work program maintenance and testing of the generators and automatic electrical transfer switches,” Osborne said. “All of our RWP is scheduled in accordance with our governing Air Force instructions.”
In total, power production members spend three to four weeks at silver flag contingency training, as well as a trouble shooting class in order to be qualified on the arresting system and generators.
After three to four weeks of silver flag contingency training and a troubleshooting class held at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, all electrical power production members are qualified on both the arresting system and generators.
Thorne said it’s not hard to see how he and his teammates fit into the mission here.
“Not only are we saving lives and equipment with the arresting system, but also ensuring the continued efforts of others to save lives,” said Thorne.