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Altus Maintenance leads first KC-46 landing gear strut removal

KC-46 strut removed for first time

A warning sign is placed in front of a KC-46A Pegasus as its landing gear is removed for the first time Oct. 8, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Although the main objective of this removal was to fix the broken strut, this also served as a learning opportunity and training tool for maintainers across the Air Force for first task verifications. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

KC-46 strut removed for first time

Maintainers from the 97th Maintenance Group gather underneath a lifted KC-46A Pegasus after removing the landing gear for the first time Oct. 8, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Altus maintainers were not alone in the strut removal with assistance from Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H.; McConnell AFB, Kans.; and Tinker AFB, Airmen on hand to learn and assist with the process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

KC-46 strut removed for first time

A maintainer from the 97th Maintenance Group works on the landing gear strut of a KC-46A in order to remove the landing gear Oct. 8, 2019, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Following a routine flight, the ATeam noticed a main landing gear strut was leaking hydraulic fluid. The maintainers got straight to work and began to search for a solution. The A-Team would have to repack the strut to repair the leak, a task that had not been done before. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The KC-46A Pegasus will take off and land approximately 1,250 times a year during mobility training at the 97th Air Mobility Wing. In turn, this creates strain and wear on the aircraft parts, something the Altus maintenance team constantly keeps close eyes on. The 97th AMW Maintenance Group KC-46 A-Team accomplished a milestone task for the KC-46 program Oct. 8, 2019, when removing a KC-46 landing gear strut for the first time at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. 

Following a routine flight, the A-Team noticed a main landing gear strut was leaking hydraulic fluid. The maintainers got straight to work searching for a solution. The A-Team would have to repack the strut to repair the leak, a task that had not been done before.

In order to detach the landing gear from the airframe, the KC-46 must be lifted approximately 13 feet off the ground, giving the aircraft enough room for the strut to slide away. Although it flies almost every day, it is a rare sight to see a KC-46 in the air held solely by jack stands.

“This is a huge event for the maintenance group because of the scope of repair and the amount of people that get to participate and learn,” said Donnie Obreiter, the KC-46A maintenance flight chief. “What this crew is doing here today is going to set the stage for many generations of maintainers in the future which could be doing this same task.”

The maintenance repair served as a learning opportunity and training tool for maintainers across the Air Force for first task verifications. It additionally facilitated an environment focused on improvement for maintainers across the Air Force, ensuring all KC-46 supporting units remain mission ready.

Though the A-Team led the repair, they were not alone in the strut removal. Maintainers from Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H., and McConnell AFB, Kan., were on site to learn and assist with the process.

KC-46 subject matter experts from local and national Boeing facilities additionally provided their insights highlighting the importance of collaboration, allowing the repair to be a smooth and successful process.

“Training like this is good for everyone here in maintenance. It helps us remain mission-ready and stay at the forefront of the KC-46 enterprise,” said Obreiter. “It is really important for something at this magnitude to involve all the other Airmen across the Air Force who could face this problem as well. It is better to work through these types of problems as a team where we are all on the same page.”

The Altus AFB A-team continues to make history and show initiative by leading the way in joint training. Through teamwork and communication, maintainers across the Air Force continuously improve their skills and knowledge on the KC-46, preparing today’s Airmen for tomorrow's challenges.