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Take off, Landing, Opening Aircraft; Pneudraulics maintains Planes

  • Published
  • By Airman Jackson Haddon
Every time a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III or U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker prepares for landing they lower the landing gear. The landing gear works because Airmen in the 97th Maintenance Directorate Pneudraulics Shop make sure it does.

With aircraft flying year-round, components can get worn out from fatigue or weather; the pneudraulics shop helps repair the pieces and get aircraft back in flying condition.

“We get the hydraulic components in from the flight line,” said Pete Chase, 97th MX pneudraulics shop flight chief. “We inspect, test it for malfunction, dismantle it, overhaul it, test it again then put it back in the flight system.”

The hydraulics of an aircraft allow the landing gear to fold out against air resistance and touchdown on the runway. Hydraulics are also responsible for bringing the aircraft to a stop. Landing and stopping, two vital aspects of flying an aircraft which need multiple components to work correctly to get the job done.

“There’s a lot of little pieces that make the end item that go into the airplane,” said Ronald Roman, 97th MX hydraulic mechanic. “We take the part that comes in, inspect it, clean it up and order parts if we can’t rework it. At the worst case scenario is that manufacturer who made the part will do a recall on it, they’ll mix and match it with their parts and find something that’s serviceable.”

The two airframes at Altus AFB need a variety of tools to be maintained right.

“We have a hydraulic test stand used to do all the functional tests once we overhaul a part,” said Chase. “We also use micrometers, calipers and force gauges. We give occasional refresher training on the hydraulic test stand and the other tools people get trained on in tech school. We use most of the tools daily.”

In any given year, the shop can get more than 150 parts mended and back to the aircraft so they can continue the training mission.

“We save a lot of money by doing things locally here,” said Chase. “Each strut that we fix for the KC-135 is around $140,000 that we’ve saved the Air Force.”

Keeping the training mission going is just another day in the pneudraulics shop. When a piece wears down the pneudraulics shop is ready to do what they can to get the component back in working order, pushing the mission forward one part at a time.