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Electrical environmental: From the back shop to the sky!

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Before pilots complete their mission planning, before aircraft are cleared for take-off, the 509th Maintenance Squadron Electrical Environment back shop crew aircraft work behind the scenes to ensure they are mission-ready.

The 509th MXS Electrical Environment back shop crew performs inspections to ensure all components are functioning properly on the B-2 Spirit, said Tech. Sgt. Mark Horn, 509th Maintenance Squadron assistant NCO in charge.

"We repair different types of components from the B-2 Spirit and other aircraft," said Horn. "We repair line replaceable units, maintain and service lithium-ion batteries and perform phase inspections on the B-2. The line replaceable units will come to this back shop for repair; we bench-check them and inspect the internals of the black box. If there is something wrong with it, we will repair it and return it back to supply."

The lithium-ion battery Horn referred to consists of a battery cell and a circuit card. During a test, if the batteries have bad circuit cards, they will be replaced and tested to ensure the new circuit cards are functioning and then will be sent to supply.

Phase inspections are important because they require thorough maintenance based on time compliance technical orders and work cards. To ensure successful operation, the aircraft undergoes three types of phases -A, B and C. The A phase determines the type of maintenance components needed every 1,000 hours, the B phase determines which AF-118 engines come out every 2,000 hours, and the C phase determines how the other AF-118 engines are inspected.

The tasks assigned from the work cards also include inspecting all sides of the aircraft, ensuring there are no dents in the airline, inspecting the fire loops for fire detection on the engines and changing filters on all the re-circulated air systems, said Senior Airman Christopher Stimely, 509th MXS electrical environment technician.

"Every 1,000 hours, Airmen perform a phase inspection on an aircraft to ensure it functions properly before, during and after tasks," said Stimely. "The phases are conducted in A, B and C, each involving different components on the aircraft to include engines, filters and fire loops."

The 509th MXS Electrical Environment back shop crew plays a huge role in maintaining the B-2 and ensuring all its components are operational.

They also work with equipment such as liquid oxygen, oxygen gas and nitrogen carts. Each cart contains bottles requiring specific elemental refills. They perform 90 and 180-day inspections on the carts and change the filters that pull moisture from the lines on the carts. If there are any leaks in the lines, they immediately replace them before the bottles are depleted.

The 509th MXS Electrical Environment back shop crew refills the bottles on the nitrogen cart so the crew chiefs can use them to fill tires and to adjust the height of the strut. Nitrogen is preferred because, unlike ordinary air, it does not freeze, cause mold or moisture within the tires, or weigh as much as comparable gases.

The oxygen carts are used to remove contaminants from the oxygen systems before they cause damage to the aircraft's systems. The T-38 jets require liquid oxygen to remove contaminants from the oxygen systems.

No matter what the task, the members of the electrical environment back shop crew are constantly facing exciting challenges.

"From the moment we step in to the moment we step out, we never know what we are going to encounter during the day," said Stimely. "It's exciting repairing different parts of an aircraft and knowing that I'm playing a huge role in getting the aircraft off the ground!"