New 400-hour phase inspection equates to lives saved
by Capt. Michael Meridith
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
11/19/2007 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- F-15E Strike Eagle maintainers here recently became the first in the Air Force to implement a new inspection process that promises greater airpower capability throughout Afghanistan.
Shortly after becoming the first deployed F-15E unit in the Air Force to return to full operational capability following the Air Force's fleet-wide grounding of the aircraft, the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron began the new "400-hour phase" inspection process this week.
Phase inspections are among the most comprehensive maintenance actions performed on Air Force aircraft, said unit officials.
"Previously, each of our aircraft went into a five- to seven-day phase inspection for every 200 flight hours," said Maj. Jennifer Hammerstedt, the squadron commander. "Engineers at (the Air Logistics Center at) Warner-Robins Air Force Base, Ga., looked carefully at all the data after years of analysis and testing and were able to extend it to 400 hours."
While the 400-hour standard wasn't slated for implementation until early 2008, maintenance leaders here asked the Air Force to approve an earlier adoption for Bagram. "We're at the tip of the spear and we wanted the extra [flying] hours to meet our mission demands," said Major Hammerstedt.
Thanks to the new standard, maintainers are not only able to keep the F-15Es in the air longer -- which Maj. Hammerstedt said "ultimately equates to lives saved on the ground."
They are also able to reinvest the time savings back into a key area: training, she said.
"When I was back at home station, I didn't get us much of a chance to be hands-on during phase," said Airman 1st Class Darwin Gellizeau, who is with the 455th EMXS. "Now I have the chance to get more involved and to learn more."
"It means we'll need less manpower and have a lot more flexibility," said Staff Sgt. Charles Knotts, the phase dock chief. "It will free us up to refocus on other critical programs."
With the first phase inspection under the new standard complete, the major is pleased by the results and excited about the future, she said.
"Our Air Force has taken the initiative to look at a very long-standing process and ask, 'how can we do this smarter and better,'" Major Hammerstedt said. "With the amount and length of sorties we fly, that means a huge plus in combat capability."
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