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Hydraulics team keeps Aviano aircraft flying fluidly
Staff Sgt. Joshua Walters, 31st Maintenance Squadron hydraulics craftsman, connects a torque link to an F-16 Fighting Falcon nose landing gear shock strut July 14 at the hydraulics back shop before testing. To test aircraft parts, the hydraulics team uses a test unit that recreates the conditions of the part on an F-16 Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tabitha M. Lee)
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Hydraulics team keeps Aviano aircraft flying fluidly

Posted 7/16/2010   Updated 7/16/2010 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Tabitha M. Lee
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/16/2010 - AVINAO AIR BASE, Italy  -- A staff sergeant from the 31st Maintenance Squadron's hydraulics back shop connects a torque link to an F-16 Fighting Falcon nose landing gear shock strut. The sergeant meticulously installs this device to ensure proper movement of the landing gear.
This is just one part of Staff Sgt. Joshua Walters's job as a 31st MXS hydraulics craftsman. Every time a hydraulic component of an aircraft malfunctions, it is the responsibility of the hydraulics shop to get it running properly again.

The 31st MXS hydraulics section is responsible for all Aviano aircraft as well as those in transit.

Because many moving components on an F-16 including the landing gear, brakes and actuators, are powered by hydraulics, the hydraulics maintainers must ensure the quality of their work.

"Quality maintenance, that's what we strive for here," said Sergeant Walters. "We keep the pilots alive directly."

When a hydraulic part breaks, the team inspects, tears down, repairs, rebuilds and cleans the item. For Airman 1st Class Alexander Vergara, 31st Maintenance Squadron's hydraulics journeyman, this is a very exciting part of the job.

"I like tearing things down and getting a feel for how the parts work," said Airman Vergara.

The team tests the repaired part to ensure it is fixed before it is installed in the aircraft. They use a hydraulic test unit that recreates the conditions of the part on an F-16.

"We don't want to push out a part that comes back to us a month later," said Staff Sgt. Michael Kenny, 31st MXS hydraulics section chief. "That could mean we missed something in the inspection process."

Most F-16 hydraulic maintenance is done in the back shop. However, for the larger aircraft such as cargo and refueling aircraft, the maintenance team must go out to the flightline to inspect and maintain hydraulic components.

In the back shop there is more time to access the parts and ensure everything is going out with the utmost quality. On the flightline, hydraulics Airmen have a more fast pace job. They are responsible for inspecting and removing hydraulic parts and getting them to the back shop where the repairs are done.

The 31st Maintenance Squadron's hydraulics section takes pride in their work because of the importance of their mission.

"Our job is to make sure those planes stay up in the air, safe and sound," said Airmen Vergara.

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