Aircrew Flight Equipment: gear ready, mission ready

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Public Affairs

Helmet fitted? Check. Chemical gear? Check. Goggles, rafts, vests, and all other essential gear inspected and properly loaded onto the aircraft? Check.

Every day, Air Force flight missions are executed around the world. With the help of the aircrew flight equipment (AFE) section, flight members can complete their mission without fear of equipment failure or malfunction.

From fitting to inspecting equipment, AFE is responsible for the emergency equipment used by flight members.

“In the event of danger, the equipment we maintain is the last lifeline to ensure our fellow Airmen come home safely,” explained Staff Sgt. Leader Chang, an AFE technician with the 6th OSS.

Here at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, AFE is broken down into two sections. The first section, the Oxygen Equipment Section, inspects and customizes the gear for each aircrew member.

“Currently we have about 130 active-duty crew members, and we inspect and maintain all their essential equipment from helmets and goggles to chemical gear for each member,” explained Staff Sgt. Matthew Walters, an AFE technician with the 6th Operations Support Squadron (OSS).

Next is the Flightline Section, which is responsible for the equipment aboard each aircraft, including survival radios, life preservers, rafts, survival vests, rations and emergency water. In both sections, all equipment must be inspected regularly.

“Every week we use a program called Flight Equipment Records Management Systems, which tracks all of our inspections and aircrew gear,” said Walters. “We go in, print out a list that tells us everything due for that week. From there, we get together and discuss what needs to be done.”

These Airmen then divide up their work based on the section. Priority tasks are completed first based on aircrew, aircraft needs and mission requirements.

Additionally, AFE is responsible for confirming deploying Airmen’s gear is ready and will not expire during their deployment.

Using their technical orders, these Airmen perform inspection checks to ensure the equipment is mission ready. Once the equipment passes inspection, it is then checked over again by the AFE Quality Assurance NCO in charge.

In addition to preparing flight equipment, AFE Airmen lead hands-on equipment training for aircrew members.

MacDill’s aircrew must be mission-ready to rapidly project airlift and air refueling around the world; they’re only able to do so because their equipment is always ready.