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NEWS | June 6, 2012

437th MXS PMELs attention to detail impacts all JB Charleston

By Senior Airman Anthony J. Hyatt Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

All equipment used in the military, from the smallest of screws to precision-guided weapons, depend on accurate measurements to properly function.

The 437th Maintenance Squadron Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory, located in the Test, Diagnostic and Measurement Equipment flight in Bldg. 707, is an 18-man shop with technicians who are responsible for the repair, calibration and modification of measurement equipment here at Joint Base Charleston. They provide support to the 437th Airlift Wing, the 628th Air Base Wing, and the 315th Airlift Wing, along with Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic and Joint Base Charleston's Weapons Station.

"The Air Force uses all sorts of test equipment; electronic and physical," said Staff Sgt. Jordan Fiebelkorn, 437th MXS PMEL physical-dimensional section supervisor. "We make sure that one inch is one inch all the way across the Air Force and also ensure traceability [to Air Force Reference Standards]."

Some of the most common equipment the PMEL Airmen work on here are torque wrenches and pressure gauges. But they also work on linear, voltage, frequency and Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment, according to Fiebelkorn.

"We inspect TMDE for preventive maintenance, cleanliness and safety requirements in addition to checking for accuracy," Fiebelkorn said. "To describe our job say 'you buy a watch.' Presumably there is 60 seconds on that watch, but how do you know that is true? Our job would be to verify that there is 60 seconds on that watch and every second is a true second."

JB Charleston's PMEL is broken up into two sections - electronics and physical dimensional.

On the electronics side of the laboratory, technicians supervise the process and use of TMDE to perform AC/DC voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, inductance, phase, frequency, power/attenuation and vibration tests.

The physical-dimensional side consists of technicians who are skilled on calibrations involving mass, linear, angular, torque, force, tension, rotary motion, temperature, vacuum and pressure.

"All of these functions are performed in a strictly controlled laboratory environment where the temperature and humidity are constantly monitored," said Master Sgt. Kevin LeMere, 437th MXS TMDE flight chief.

Not to be mistaken for aircraft maintainers, PMEL Airmen do not work on the planes themselves. Instead, they work on the equipment that aircraft maintenance personnel use to accomplish their jobs.

"For instance, we calibrate altitude test sets that notify the pilots how high they are flying," said Fiebelkorn.

"Our job is extremely important because our equipment is used on all aircraft and weapons systems and any small miscalculation can be the difference in a mission accomplished or mission failed or even the loss of lives," the physical-dimension section supervisor said.

Furthermore, PMEL can be held criminally liable if they don't calibrate an instrument accurately.

"Our goal is to ensure quality equipment leaves our facility and is readily available for today's global mission," LeMere added.

To become certified in all PMEL areas, Airmen must complete a seven-month technical training at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. After technical school, each Airman must complete 12 months of on-the-job training along with four volumes of Career Development Courses.

"PMEL stays behind the curtains," said Fiebelkorn. "We operate on many things around base that people don't necessarily see.

We set the standard for one inch. Every measurement on base is based off of the work of a skilled airman first class," added Fiebelkorn. "We take pride in that."

As the Air Force continues to change and adapt, JB Charleston PMEL Airmen are constantly sharpening their skills and abilities to keep equipment running accurately, safely and efficiently.