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NEWS | May 6, 2020

CTK Airmen keep tools sharp, maintainers safe during pandemic

By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Sortie Support Flight’s Composite Tool Kit Section takes care of the initial steps in ensuring aircraft are maintained and able to execute missions worldwide during the global pandemic.


From a single rag to an advanced piece of sophisticated aircraft test equipment, these CTK members ensure tools and assets are serviceable and clean to help ensure JB Charleston’s C-17 Globemaster IIIs keep flying.


“CTK and Sortie Support Flight as a whole is important because it allows the Aircraft Maintenance Units (AMUs) to focus more on getting the jets off the ground while we manage the support side of what it takes to do aircraft maintenance,” said 2nd Lt. Estera Leavelle, 437th AMXS Sortie Support (Viper) Flight officer-in-charge.


“Not only do we provide support at home station, but often we are tasked with providing tools and equipment for Maintenance Recovery Teams (MRTs), readiness exercises, even other C-17 bases, to include Guard and Reserve, which might have a shortfall in a particular asset,” added Senior Master Sgt. Beau Skonieczny, 437th AMXS Sortie Support (Viper) Flight superintendent.  


The team is responsible for the accountability of thousands of pieces of equipment including more than 2,000 tool kits. 


“The biggest struggle is tool accountability and increased turn in times because of the physical distancing and tool decontamination processes,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Johnson, 437th AMXS Sortie Support Flight CTK Section NCOIC. “That being said, over the past few weeks everyone has gotten used to the new procedures and things are flowing smoother. We also have yet to lose a tool in the midst of this pandemic which is a demonstration of our Airmen, as well as those on the flightline, doing a great job, despite the numerous changes that have happened since the pandemic started.”


Johnson said the CTK team implemented a process where maintainers disinfect their tools prior to turn in. After communicating over radio, tools are sanitized in a designated room used for tool transfer with personnel keeping a six foot distance. 


“Our new procedures effectively stops the spread of the virus from tool to tool, keeping our maintainers safe,” said Johnson. “We have also checked out some high use items, long term, to individual sections to keep in their areas to decrease the amount of people and other equipment coming in contact with those items.”


Despite working during a pandemic, Johnson said his team continues to give it their best effort to support the mission here.


“Going out there with the proper tools and equipment and making sure they’re serviceable and working to the best of their ability is something we take pride in,” said Johnson. “Before I was doing this I was out on the flight line fixing planes, so I know how crucial it is to have tools that work correctly. It can delay the mission if you go out there and the tools you have aren’t working. [Maintainers] don’t have to go out there and worry their tools won’t work. They can just worry about being proficient at maintaining and doing their job so we get quality airplanes out there.”