KC-135R Stratotankers Undergo Inspections to Ensure Mission Success

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt. Daniel Gagnon
  • 134 ARW

The KC-135 goes through numerous inspections. Some inspections are performed every 120 hours while others are every 24 months. There are different levels of inspections in which different maintenance procedures are performed.

Every five years a KC-135 Stratotanker is scheduled to go through an approximate seven month periodic depot maintenance (PDM). The purpose of a PDM is to perform evaluations, inspections and repairs and deferred maintenance beyond the capability of field units. During the depot process the engines, boom and flight controls are removed and inspected for repair or replacement.  Depot maintenance is a major overhaul and is performed at Tinker Air Force Base, Ok.

 “A PDM is very important. When it returns here, we put it back into service to do its mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Matt Breeding, an isochronical inspector at the 134th phase dock. “All KC-135s go through this cycle.”

The process starts with 134th maintenance personnel creating a work package while consulting with engineers and schedulers at Tinker AFB, then delivering the jet to Oklahoma. The jet undergoes a five month depot maintenance, this is when the major overhaul happens. Then a 134th maintenance team goes to Tinker AFB to perform a three day inspection to verify the work has been performed correctly.  Fuel leak checks, painting, and an operational check are the last tasks to be completed.  Then the 134th MXS is notified and arrangements are made for the jet to be picked up.  When the jet arrives back at McGhee Tyson ANG Base a final acceptance inspection is completed before the jet is returned to service.

After a jet returns from a PDM, a 12 month inspection is performed.  Every two years it receives an ISO, which consists of the different levels of inspections and maintenance.

Once the inspection is done thoroughly, there is little wrap-up work to be done on the line.

“A lot of the stuff is fixed on the spot and put back out there to give the best product we can,” said Master Sgt. William Pickens, the work leader for the 134th phase dock. “We do a lot of preventative maintenance to keep the planes flying.”

The crews have a lot of background and experience.  Some Airmen have been working on the jets over 20 years.

“I have a good crew that works together, they go above and beyond their normal job spectrum,” said Pickens. “They help some of the back shops out too.  For the most part, they keep a positive attitude on everything. They take a lot of pride in what they do.”

The job performance reflects everyday through the flying mission.

Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Russell, Equipment Maintenance Supervisor for the 134th Maintenance Squadron said that he was proud of the work the technicians do. If their work wasn’t as good as it is, then they would have a lot more broken airplanes, and more down time then we have right now.

“The 134th maintenance as a whole is dedicated to the refueling mission.  We are dedicated and proud of what we do,” said Russell. “It shows in the product we put out and the missions we do.”