Skip to comments.Phase maintenance Marines check under F/A-18 hoods
Posted on 03/13/2006 3:38:09 PM PST by SandRat
AL ASAD, Iraq (March 13, 2006) -- Imagine every time your vehicle travels 3,000 miles, a group of highly skilled experts dismantle it, check all the fluids and parts for wear and tear, then quickly reassemble it.
Not a very common occurrence for today's drivers, unless you are a pilot and your vehicle happens to be an F/A-18 Hornet with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Eight highly skilled Marines with the Hawks' phase maintenance section are responsible for performing a complete maintenance check of the Hornets every time they reach 200 flight hours since their last tune-up.
"The whole purpose of this shop is to take the workload off the other maintenance shops. Every 200 flight hours we knockout every maintenance check necessary or technical directive that has sprung up," said Staff Sgt. Brad A. Applegate, the phase maintenance staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "Once we got the phase shop going out here, we were able to cut about a week or two off the time needed to complete the maintenance phase of an aircraft."
In the United States, a normal maintenance phase takes about two to three weeks because the aircraft is moved from one maintenance section to the next, each working on their specific area of the jet.
The phase maintenance section consolidates all the section's jobs, by including Marines with Military Occupational Specialties from across the aircraft maintenance field in its ranks.
"We have Marines from power line, ordnance and airframes, basically all the work centers," said Applegate, an Arvada, Colo., native. "Most jobs during phase maintenance require multiple people, so we do it all together. In this way, all of us are getting to learn each others' MOSs."
"At first, everybody was going through that learning process, but now, everyone is locked on," Applegate added.
According to Cpl. Jeffers B. Page, a power plants mechanic and Mobile, Ala., native, it's good to work in phase maintenance because you can do your job, plus increase your knowledge of other jobs.
"It's not bad. Basically, we get to tear apart the jet, like tuning up a car," said Lance Cpl. Andrew M. Denney, an aviation electrical systems technician and Quincey, Calif., native.
Despite their positive outlook on their task, the Marines in the section admit that during phase maintenance, frustrations arise.
"The most aggravating thing is the panels," said Page. "They have a thousand screws holding them on. Each one has to be removed or drilled out to inspect the lines and (mechanical devices) underneath."
According to Applegate, the entire process of stripping down, repairing and putting the aircraft back together takes less than seven days.
The Marines' tireless work does not stop once they are physically done working on one jet, it continues because the squadron's operational tempo is higher here, stated Applegate.
"I have to keep track of the work done. Phase maintenance also includes paperwork long after the work is completed," said Cpl. William E. Thornton, an airframe mechanic and Ocean City, Md., native. "Sometimes it feels like as soon as we finish one phase another comes in."
Keeping the Marine Aircraft Flying and Fighting!
What do these guys do when they get back to civilian life? They must be under some demand, and I bet they demand a higher work tempo than the civilians they work with are used to.
What do they do??? Probably tork off the Airlines Mechanics Union Rep for the very reasons you cite.
Yikes, at first I thought they were going to tell me they were checking after every 3,000 miles. Not too many flight hours there.
Once they get out without an A&P license they won't be working on airplanes.
"As a maintenance guy, I would say if they're drilling out a lot of screws, they aren't putting them back in properly or their corrosion control work center is missing something."
They are being drilled out because someone hamfisted them...In my old squadron if you stripped one or broke an anchor nut, you accompanied the airframers out to fix it. They always had a ton of work backlogged and didn't appreciate the extra tasking, especially if was caused by an avionics type!
Here's a little maintainance humor:
After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form called a "gripe sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems; document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor.
Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Qantas' pilots (marked with a P) and the Solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.
By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident. ...
P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit..
S: Something tightened in cockpit.
P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.
P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what they're for.
P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.
P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.
And the best one for last...
P. Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.
Oh hell yeah, that is true too. I remember as a young AQ3 helping on a missile panel I'd "torqued" down. My Chief said "This isn't your Chevy T-T! Go help the 'framers" --and of course I did. And I learned.