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The 31st AGE flight keeps gears turning at Aviano AB

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Thomas Calopedis
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 31st Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) flight is responsible for a multitude of duties to keep aircraft in the skies including electrical, hydraulic pressure or air pressure related work on Aviano AB.

On top of delivering equipment to units across base, AGE ensures that equipment is ready and functional at a moment’s notice.

“With all the machinery that gets delivered, we also do maintenance and inspections on it,” said Senior Airman Cyerra Carter, 31st MXS AGE journeyman. “Sometimes it’s just a quick inspection and lubrication, but just recently we picked up a unit where the steering sector completely fell apart and needed major repairs.”

AGE splits their duties into four primary sections: pick-up and delivery, maintenance, inspections and bomb lift. These sections not only provide their skillset and inventory to the flightline but also to maintenance back shops and the rest of the base as well. This means there is plenty of equipment that needs to be maintained.

“The maintenance section is smaller, usually consisting of three or four people. They complete heavy, in-depth maintenance and do lots of troubleshooting,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Rodriguez, 31st MXS AGE craftsman. “Major maintenance consists of elements such as changing generators, tuning as well as timing engines and swapping out larger components.”

 The inspections section may not make drastic repairs to equipment but the steps they take to identify signs of wear and damage is important to preventing future mechanical failure.

“If you walk around our shop, these guys are doing inspections every day,” said Rodriguez. “It’s preventative maintenance so we can minimize the larger maintenance repairs.”

The bomb lift section is responsible for a vital fighter wing mission component. The machinery that they maintain aids in the loading of munitions onto fighter aircraft.

“Bomb lifts, or ‘jammers’, are used daily by weapons teams to load munitions whether in training or real world,” said Carter. “It’s our job to make sure they are serviceable before we sign them out to other sections.”

The jammers, like all of AGE flight’s equipment inventory, are on their own maintenance and inspection schedules.

“Every single piece of equipment is set up on a six-month inspection schedule,” said Carter. “At minimum they’ll get a wash and lubrication. Depending on inspection criteria, some units are on weekly, monthly, annual or even a five-year cycle for different things, it varies.”

They make sure all the fluids and filters on their machinery are changed regularly, while also inspecting the tires and looking over everything to make sure it is all in order, said Carter.

Technical orders (TOs) are also an essential part of their job, according to Carter. They are clear and concise instructions for the maintenance and operation of Air Force equipment.

“We thoroughly read through TOs, whether it’s maintenance or inspections,” said Carter. “First thing in the morning at seven o'clock, we're all picking up TOs and getting to where we need to be.”

Both Rodriguez and Carter feel the team dynamic they are part of and know they can depend on the Airmen around them during the very high tempo periods.

“Sometimes we’ll get tasked with preparing equipment for transport to a new location in Europe at the last-minute and I love how everyone comes together to get the job done,” said Rodriguez. “Other units will even come to us with problems outside of our duties and we’ll troubleshoot to find a solution. We take pride in being hardworking and reliable. This teamwork is the most rewarding part of the job for me.”