AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar –
Airmen of the 8th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron teamed up Dec. 16-18, 2018, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to replace the pitch trim actuator on a C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, S.C.
The repair was the first of its kind conducted in U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility.
“Typically, this job is never performed in the AOR,” said Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Farris, 8th EAMS. “We are very fortunate to have a great relationship with our Qatari Emiri Air Force partners. They enabled our maintenance team to reduce unnecessary risks by allowing us to use both their hangar and support equipment. Without their support, we would not have been able to complete a very difficult task that is always performed at a home-station facility.”
Because of the unique nature of the repair, the 8th EAMS could not rely on conventional maintenance solutions normally used at home stations. Instead, they got innovative, and reached out to the 379th ECES for construction equipment to move the tools and assets needed to detach the old actuator and install the new one.
“It’s really cool to come together doing a project,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Newton, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and construction equipment craftsman and project crane operator. “The maintainers are the experts here, we're just playing our part to help them keep the mission going. It was cool to be selected to be a part of the team to do it.”
Tech. Sgt. Alejo Blas, 8th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead technical crew chief, said the teamwork and trust between everyone involved in the project helped bridge any unfamiliar territory that came with the unconventional repair.
“To do the procedure [we used] alternate methods, a first ever for us as maintainers in changing this component,” he said. “The ‘crush hazard’ and amount of skill you need to be inside of the hole on top of the tail with a 300 pound, 6.7 foot component above your head, and trusting everybody around you to ensure that nothings happen to you makes a strong bond.”
Senior Airman Ben Sumner, an 8th EAMS crew chief, said the innovative repair went well, and reminded him of his personal affinity for maintenance.
“It’s been real smooth,” he said. “For a crew chief, this is what it’s all about, doing a big job like this and getting your hands dirty. Imagine working on your car but just 1,000 times bigger. I enjoyed every minute.”