Good Communication

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ned T. Johnston
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Air traffic controllers rely on extremely complex equipment to be able to communicate with aircraft pilots in order to safely fly and land the Air Force's multimillion dollar jets; the smallest error can threaten a mission or ground an entire air wing.

Tasked with maintaining these systems is the job of the airfield systems Airmen with the 6th Communications Squadron, whose mission is to fix and maintain airfield equipment and radio communications.

"Our job is really like no other," commented Senior Airman Scott Phillips, 6th CS airfield systems technician. "We work on a huge variety of systems. One piece of equipment is nothing like another piece of equipment, which is totally different than the next."

Airfield systems Airmen maintain radio equipment at the air traffic control tower, in addition to all the systems on the airfield, to include: the tactical air navigation beacon, which provides the user with bearing and distance to the runway; and the instrument landing system, which consists of two glide slope antennas and two localizers that guide the plane safely to the runway during low visibility conditions.

"We have two weather sensor groups on the airfield as well," said Phillips. "Basically it's a group of systems that record everything about the weather. This data is collected and then sent off to weather, so they can do their job."

With so many complex systems to maintain, airfield systems Airmen are constantly performing preventative maintenance inspections to ensure the integrity of the equipment.

"We do these preventative maintenance inspections to catch problems before they happen," said Senior Airman Darrian Gordon, 6th CS airfield systems technician. "If our systems fail, everything stops on the airfield."

According to Philips, they do inspections as often as every 28 days on some systems and on others up to every 336 days.

Most of the work these Airmen do is behind the scenes or out on the airfield where they're not seen. They perform their inspections and maintain what they have to, and if done right, no one knows they were there.

"A lot of people hear airfield systems and aren't really sure what we do," said Phillips. "I normally just laugh and tell them 'if the planes are in the air, we're doing our job.'"