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6th MXS, AMXS teamwork ensures rapid global mobility

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nathan Hiesterman, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, attaches a chain hoist to a dynamometer at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 8, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nathan Hiesterman, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, attaches a chain hoist to a dynamometer at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 8, 2018. Dynamometers measure the amount of weight on the engine trailer when reattaching an engine to an aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion Airmen, hoist a KC-135 Stratotanker engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 8, 2018.

U.S. Air Force 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion Airmen hoist a KC-135 Stratotanker engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 8, 2018. A team of four simultaneously used dynamometers and ratchet chains to lift the engine back into its aircraft housing during an unscheduled inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Humphreys, a 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, repairs a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 8, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Humphreys, a 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, repairs a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 8, 2018. This inspection ensured the 60-year old aircraft was fit to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nathan Hiesterman, left, a 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, removes packing wrap from a new KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 7, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nathan Hiesterman, left, a 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, removes packing wrap from a new KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 7, 2018. As part of a KC-135 inspection, it was deemed necessary to replace one of the engines for performance and safety reasons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Humphreys and Senior Airman Nathan Hiesterman, a 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeymen, inspect a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 6, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Humphreys and Senior Airman Nathan Hiesterman, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeymen, inspect a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft engine at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 6, 2018. This type of inspection ensured this KC-135 was safe to fly and mission ready. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

MacDill's fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers maintain a global footprint, delivering fuel on time and on target every day. This constant demand requires upkeep and repairs along the way to ensure a safe aircrew and successful mission.

Behind the scenes of aerial refueling, skilled 6th Maintenance Squadron and 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron technicians and mechanics recently teamed up to conduct an extensive engine inspection on one of the USAF’s most dependable aircraft.

“This was an aircraft maintenance inspection that checks all the main structural parts of an aircraft for signs of distress or warping,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Alicea, a 6th MXS team leader. “It allows us to repair or replace damaged equipment ensuring the aircraft is safe to fly.”

Ensuring a ready aircraft, 6th MXS and AMXS Airmen use a variety of tools, including a borescope, which allows them to view internal parts of the engine and landing gear that they couldn’t see otherwise.

“My team will thoroughly inspect each engine of this KC-135,” said Senior Airman Hiesterman, a 6th AMXS aerospace propulsion journeyman. “One of the best parts of this type of inspection is that we get a great opportunity to work with other maintainers and use a wider-range of tools to get the job done.”

During this inspection, maintainers from several specialized career fields are looking for cracks, structural damage, and wear and tear on engine parts.

“It is a great Team MacDill effort,” said Alicea. “We have individual teams from aerospace propulsion, electrical and engineering, aerial repair and wheels and tire technicians all working together to get this KC-135 mission ready.”

 Although technical data and orders guide the teams, it is experience and career proficiency that gets the job done.

“As of Nov. 6, MacDill has already logged approximately 224 hours for this inspection alone, but once complete, that number should be around 480 hours, which doesn’t include individual man hours,” said Alicea.

Through continual innovation during the inspection, such as adjusting shift layouts to improve continuity, these teams constantly streamline their processes.

 As for major repairs, one engine has already been completely replaced. With final repairs yet to come and this being one of many inspections, it's apparent 6th MXS and AMXS Airmen don't take rapid mobility lightly and their unified efforts define unmatched support to the Air Force's core refueling asset.