Altus AFB Maintainers create first KC-46 tire refurbishment process

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Thanks to members of the 97th Maintenance Group, Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, recently became the first base capable of breaking down and reconstructing tires for the KC-46 Pegasus.

Donald Obreiter, 97th Maintenance Squadron director, said that because the shop relies on contractors for KC-46 tires, being able to assemble them in-shop is important to increasing productivity.

After an old wheel is broken down, the 97th MXG wheel and tire shop disassembles the tire and sends it to a corrosion shop where the paint is stripped. Afterward, the wheel is inspected, treated for corrosion and sent to a nondestructive inspection shop. There, the tire and wheel are x-rayed using a dye penetrant solution, followed by an inspection to check for cracks that could cause failure when the tire is in use. Next, the inspected tire is sent back to the corrosion shop and the wheel is repainted. Finally, the tire returns to the wheel and tire shop, where it is reassembled and inflated.

Obreiter said the elaborate process the tires go through will ultimately improve the sustainability of the local mission: “forging the world’s most inspired, adaptive and proficient mobility warriors to deliver airpower for America.”

“We're not only the first base to do this, but also the only base that has the capability to build our own KC-46 wheels and tires,” said Obreiter. “If we don't have spare tires available, the airplane is grounded until we can get a tire out. Now that we can do this ourselves, we can keep our fleet going. Eventually our plan is to spool up enough to be able to support the entire enterprise if need be.”

Todd Dennision, 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance superintendent, said he is continually impressed with the creativity shown by 97th MXS maintainers.

“The guys here at (Hangar) 517, our painters, machinists and sheet metal mechanics, never cease to amaze me with their ingenuity and innovation,” he said. “They create things in-house to make their jobs easier.”