JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
The accessories flight is a maintenance flight that works on many different important components on and off the aircraft.
The flight is organized in an uncommon way, and it has many unique tasks that are accomplished by many hard working civilian employees and Airmen.
“This flight is unique because it has three sections that each support different things,” said Lt. Weston Lucus, 437th Maintenance Squadron accessories flight commander. “The electrical shop overhauls all the electrical parts, hydraulics overhauls the hydraulic parts but they also fix parts on the aircraft, so they support the flightline too, and fuels supports the flightline with in-tank maintenance. It's a diverse flight, both people wise with the mix of civilian and military personnel and with the mission.”
According to Airman 1st Class Mac Summers, 437th MXS aircraft hydraulics technician assigned to the accessories flight, the accessories flight is a key component in the upkeep of aircraft.
“Planes wouldn’t fly without us,” he said.
Senior Airman Jacob Smith, an aircraft hydraulics technician assigned to the accessories flight in the 437th MXS, said that the flight executes many different maintenance tasks, a frequent one being changing an integrated flight control module.
“One of the common tasks we perform is changing an IFCM which is a 60 pound block that helps control hydraulic systems throughout an airplane.” he said “It's heavy, hard to work with and sometimes we are working in small spaces which makes it more challenging. That is just one example of jobs we do.”
According to Summers, the COVID-19 pandemic has made their job busier.
“We have assisted in a lot of jobs lately,” he said. “Every shift we have had in the past two months has been stacked with stuff.”
Smith communicated that even with work procedures being affected by COVID-19, they were still able to accomplish everything that needed to be done.
“During COVID-19 we were able to maintain jets so that they can keep flying missions on the flightline, and we have also been able to turn back on our capacity to repair items in the backshop and inspect planes,” said Smith. “So instead of it being minimum manning, which restrains how many jets can operate because they break and we can't provide the ability to maintain them and fix them, we are now able to maintain the whole fleet even at 30 percent of how many people we normally have on the job at one time.”
Lucus said the pandemic affected their schedule and workload, but everyone adapted to the changes very well.
Brad Kuhn, an electrician foreman assigned to the 437th MXS, said the accessories flight provided a lot of supplies during the pandemic.
“We provided gloves, hand sanitizer, alcohol, sanitary wipes, germicidal cleaner and antibacterial hand soaps.” said Kuhn
“That was all Brad,” said Lucus. “He was able to orchestrate getting all of that for maintenance. Every time the planes flew they had to be desensitized and a lot of people needed hand sanitizer and sanitation wipes.”
Smith thinks that the unique structure of the accessories flight makes them a very valuable asset in aircraft maintenance.
“What's different about this flight within our squadron, is that we are made up of three different sections and all of us participate in maintenance on the aircraft,” he said. “Normally, a hydraulics shop would be concerned with one facet of maintenance but we are accomplishing all of them on the base. Being able to be multipronged in our maintenance effort and being able to accomplish everything in one flight, I feel like makes us the most useful flight in maintenance.”
Lucus also believes that the accessories flight is a very hardworking and successful flight.
“I think this flight is second to none,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of what they do every day and how they accomplish the unique challenges, especially the ones we have been faced with lately.”