23d CMS generates new on-base repair section

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Horton, right, and Tech. Sgt. Michael Griggs, 23d Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsmen, attach a gear box to a GTCP-3650 auxiliary power unit (APU) Dec. 15, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The APU is a small gas turbine engine that provides power to the TF-34 engine on the A-10C Thunderbolt II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Horton, right, and Tech. Sgt. Michael Griggs, 23d Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion craftsmen, attach a gear box to a GTCP-3650 auxiliary power unit (APU) Dec. 15, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The APU is a small gas turbine engine that provides power to the TF-34 engine on the A-10C Thunderbolt II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers/Released)

A GTCP-3650 auxiliary power unit (APU) rests on a workstation Dec. 15, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 23d Component Maintenance Squadron engine propulsion flight established a small gas section to act as the main repair facility for APUs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers/Released)

A GTCP-3650 auxiliary power unit (APU) rests on a workstation Dec. 15, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 23d Component Maintenance Squadron engine propulsion flight established a small gas section to act as the main repair facility for APUs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Pelletier, 23d Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, installs a gear onto a GTCP-3650 auxiliary power unit (APU) Dec. 15, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The newly established small gas section has the potential to save 72 hours of maintenance time which decreases the downtime of the A-10C Thunderbolt II by 70 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Pelletier, 23d Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, installs a gear onto a GTCP-3650 auxiliary power unit (APU) Dec. 15, 2014, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The newly established small gas section has the potential to save 72 hours of maintenance time which decreases the downtime of the A-10C Thunderbolt II by 70 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers/Released)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, GA. -- With Moody's 48 A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and factoring each of the aircraft's three engines, one can see how busy a day in the life of an Airman who specializes in maintaining the A-10's engines can be.

The 23d Component Maintenance Squadron engine propulsion flight established a new small gas section to lessen the work load of their peers on the flight line.

"It is a section that is authorized but not utilized at every base," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Horton, 23d CMS small gas section chief. "Before this section we had to take the engine and send it out to get repaired where it would be put back into supply. Now we are the repair facility for [the engines]."

Out of 56 assigned personnel in the engine propulsion flight, the newly established section consists of only three members who repair the GTCP 36-50 auxiliary power units (APU), which are small gas turbine engines that provide power to the much larger, TF-34 engines on the A-10.

"We are just in the 'infant' stage of fine tuning the section here at Moody," said Horton. Slowly but surely we are developing an organized system so that we can make it easier for the next person who takes over the section allowing them to make it their own."

Not to mention, the crew members have already encountered difficulties such as locating information about parts and tools needed to make repairs.

"The main issue I am having is that most of the parts we need are coming from other bases," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Griggs, 23d CMS aerospace propulsion craftsman. "It's difficult locating someone to assist you because everything is done by email messages and phone calls so all you can do is hope that the person who can help isn't deployed, on a temporary duty assignment or on leave."

Despite the challenges faced by the small gas section, the benefits of having a repair facility on base outweigh the difficulties they have encountered.

"The flight line workers spend a lot of time switching out engines and waiting for them to be repaired," said Griggs. "Now they don't have to wait since we have spare engines ready to go. It decreases the downtime of the A-10 by 70 percent."

Not only have they decreased the downtime of an aircraft, but they have also saved the Air Force a significant amount of resources just from repairing a broken APU alone.

"The average cost of having an APU turned into supply is about $135,000," said Horton. "If we repair [the APU], it shaves the cost of it down to only $5,000. Instead of the flight line waiting almost a week for a repair, we are able to give them a same-day repair which saves time and money allowing the mission to stay on track."

Although every base does not contain this section, Moody leadership saw the need for it and began the process in Aug. 2013. Horton mentioned that manning is a major consideration when beginning a new section.

"There's no point of having a section when you don't have the people available to man it," said Horton. "If we do get more people added into our section, it will be an add-on to what their primary job entails of."

Even though manpower was a concern, Horton learned how to work with these the small gas turbine engines at his previous base, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Griggs was able to complete a week of formal training at Barksdale, Air Force Base, La., and the newest member of the crew, Senior Airman Matthew Pelletier, 23d CMS aerospace propulsion journeyman, has been doing on-the-job training for the past two weeks.

"I think of it as a learning experience," said Pelletier. "It's pretty cool to be a part of a section that is just beginning and seeing how the creation of a new section works. "It's also nice working on a smaller engine rather than being shoulders deep in the much larger TF-34 engine," he added.

Although the crew is small and the work load can be heavy, Team Moody's newly-established small gas section Airmen are determined to keep the A-10's engines running at its peak performance.