33rd phase dock shows Saudi air force superior maintenance practices

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
  • 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Members of the Royal Saudi air force visited the 33rd Maintenance Squadron's phase docks July 17-21 to learn how the maintenance unit docks conducts business and achieves its rapid aircraft inspection rate.

The Saudi visit was fruitful, giving the RSAF more then they expected, said Master Sgt. Richard Shively, 33rd MXS phase inspection section chief.

"We came to visit the phase dock to get some information about the way they do things here so we can improve our system," said RSAF Capt. Hadi-Al-Mari Abdul, chief of F-15 management and engineering section.

The Saudi members showed interest in how the 33rd MXS Airmen were able to bring a jet into the dock and through the use of workcards, disassemble the aircraft and have it ready for flight in a little over a week.

The Saudi maintenance practices weren't the only thing that required a tune-up. The Saudi airmen would benefit from RSAF's visit.

"It was amazing, the phase dock Airmen here didn't lose any time trying to figure out what was supposed to happen next," said RSAF Master Sgt. Al- Ghamdi Ghormallah, phase production supervisor. "They're so well organized and their support and training programs aided immensely in their unbelievable phase time."

The Saudi airmen were overwhelmed by the friendliness and helpfulness shown to them by the 33rd MXS Airmen.

"To be honest, we got more than what we had planned for," said Captain Abdul. "All the people here were warm and helpful; we didn't have to ask for anything, they would just offer all sorts of helpful information."

The F-15 depot at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Ga., selected the 33rd MXS phase docks to host the Saudis visit due to their ability to turn out fully mission capable aircraft in the shortest amount of time.

"Phase provides annually 9,000 sortie hours back in to the system," said Sergeant Shively. "We receive jets due for phase and put 200 fresh hours on them and place them back into the flying program."

The aircraft are scheduled to cycle through in time increments of 200 hours. The first 200 hours is called an hourly post-flight inspection, known as HPO, and is completed in approximately six days. In the first HPO, phase inspects and fixes recurring problems. The second HPO is a more in-depth inspection, usually taking upwards of eight days to complete. The third type of inspection is the periodic inspection, which is a complete strip-down and rebuild of the aircraft, which may take up to 10 days to complete.

"Work-cards are how we divide the aircraft into more manageable work sections," said Senior Airman Joshua Hampton, 33rd MXS phase inspection technician. "These sections are forward, aft, center top, center bottom and wings. Rotating people through these areas helps to identify all the potential problems pointed out by the work-cards."

RSAF found that using work-cards may have been the missing link to their current nspection rates.

"In our phase dock, we tear the whole jet down first and then rebuild it, which ends up being very time consuming and ineffective," said Captain Abdul. "We learned that it's better to divide the aircraft up into five areas and with the use of work-cards, finish each area one at a time. This ensures that you don't
miss anything."

Although the lion's share of the maintenance in phase is done by work-card, some times the flightline Airmen have to leave open jobs in the forms because they didn't have the time or resources to fix the jets before they enter phase docks. But, there are more serious problems than delayed discrepancies that the phase crews must contend with.
"The main problems that we come across in phase are cracks in the airframe or leaking hydraulics," said Senior Airman Kevin Haynes, 33rd MXS phase inspection technician.

With approximately 44 individuals currently employed in the phase docks with specialties ranging from avionics, crew chiefs and engines the work load keeps them moving. But, the work can't be all completed by these three specialties; phase does need to ask for outside help time to time.

"We also have a great many outside entities that come over to help," said Sergeant Shively. "Non-destructive inspection shop, sheet metal, corrosion, metals tech, and fuels - they're all needed because they have their own work-card items. With an average of 256 discrepancies on each jet that comes in for phase, without their help, some things couldn't get done."

Captain Abdul and the other Saudi airmen said they would like to plan more visits to the 33rd MXS phase docks in the future.