SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. –
A total of 28 Airmen from the 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard visited Scott Air Force Base from Nov. 28 to Dec. 16, 2023, working alongside 126th Air Refueling Wing maintainers on a KC-135R Stratotanker. Nebraska Airmen studied the isochronal inspection process.
The invitation was a result of a visit from the Air National Guard’s Production Assessment Team in October of 2022. The team evaluated the 155th ARW ISO process and determined that workflow changes would help shorten the process and increase airframe availability, a critical enabler to the National Defense Strategy.
An ISO is an in-depth inspection of every component of the airframe accomplished by maintenance every 30 months, 1800 flight hours or 1000 landings.
"Everything is looked at such as servicing, lubricating items, function checking, and ensuring flight controls and landing gear are rigged properly," said Master Sgt. Paul Vasa, 155th ARW ISO Docks controller. "Increasing the flow helps ensure the safety and readiness of our aircraft. These planes are 60-years-old, and the plan is to extend them to 100-year-old aircraft, so these inspections have become more critical and thorough with an aging fleet."
Many shops under maintenance are involved and help analyze every inch of the jet. Things they keep an eye out for are corrosion, landing gear component wear, critical component operation and non-destructive inspection items said Vasa.
This process takes many airmen working long hours to cross off each item of numerous checklists, but Lt. Col. John Loken, 155th Maintenance Group commander, said we have learned how to cut down our original time.
"Our typical flow for ISO averaged 75 days and the process used by the 126th ARW has a 14-day goal," Loken said. "The biggest thing we noticed and will be bringing back is the ISO scheduling process itself."
Observing their process and bringing the knowledge back to the 155th ARW has made a difference said Vasa.
"Maintenance shops are currently working together to streamline our ISO flow and increase our efficiency without sacrificing the high-quality standard we hold ourselves to," Vasa said. "With the changes to the ISO flow, in conjunction with adopting a paperless process, we will be able to increase our efficiency and reduce our time from when the aircraft last flew, all while still maintaining the quality standard that we are known for."
Experience like this helps strengthen the 155th ARW's operational abilities said Vasa.
"Overall, I feel that it was a beneficial trip. We were able to interact with another unit and see how we can develop our ISO schedule in a way that increases aircraft availability," Vasa said. "I would like to see more collaboration like this between units across the fleet in the future."
These changes will not only increase aircraft availability but also make aircraft scheduling more effective said Loken.
"Our maintainers will know day to day what they're going to work on during the ISO process itself and on the back end there's time to work on program management, leadership, or mentorship skills," Loken said. "By using a better scheduling system, it will give our Airmen more time to do other things they need to accomplish."
Loken went on to say why this exchange made a difference overall at the 155th ARW.
"We have been tasked by the Air Force down through the National Guard Bureau to increase our fleet KC-135 metrics," Loken said. "This process is a means for us to increase our fleet readiness and availability to the Air Force and provide extra combat air power to make a difference."