***image1***Editor’s Note: The following article is the third in a series of four that features the 38th Construction and Training Squadron. The series includes features on the squadron history, Aircraft Arresting System Depot mission, the construction mission and the training mission.
The air traffic control tower receives an urgent message from an incoming F-15 Eagle pilot that the jet has “hot brakes.” Quickly the controllers advise the pilot to use a hook landing. Simultaneously the Aircraft Arresting System is enacted. The F-15 hooks and lands safely.
“Our primary mission is to save pilots’ lives,” said Master Sgt. Jamie Woody, 38th Construction and Training Squadron, Command Aircraft Arresting System Depot superintendent. “Second is to save a multi-million dollar aircraft.”
The all-military unit owns six mobile and maintains fifty permanent aircraft arresting systems in which the main purpose is to create a safety line for planes to catch in case of an emergency landing. The large machines include a 1,500-foot belt that extends a line to catch planes’ hooks. Holding the machine in place are 304 five-foot stakes drilled into the ground, said Sergeant Woody.
The 20-person AAS Depot unit is the Air Force’s only overseas maintenance depot. It is responsible for the daily maintenance and operation of the AAS worth $27 million in assets throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In fact, the squadron installed the first systems in the Middle East when Operation Iraqi Freedom started, said Sergeant Woody.
There have been 313 emergency aircraft arrestments within the past four years with no injury to the pilot or aircraft, said Sergeant Woody.
To ensure safety, the AAS Depot not only supports war operations, but is present during NATO exercises, air shows around Europe and Staff Assistance Visits to units that operate the systems.
But perhaps the most fascinating part of the unit’s mission ***image2***is the ten-year requirement for AAS to receive overhaul maintenance, Sergeant Woody said.
“Overhaul maintenance is when we replace every nut and bolt of the machine, scrapping it down to bare metal and build it into a like-new machine,” said Sergeant Woody.
“The meticulous assembly includes rechecking every piece of the machine two, three, four or how ever many times it takes to ensure it is right,” said Chief Master Sgt. Rian Peaceman, 38th CTS chief.
The unit’s ability to perform its depot operation saves thousands of dollars annually.
The systems operate with B-52 Stratofortress brakes, which new cost about $52,000, said Sergeant Woody. The unit is able to overhaul the brakes for about $12,000.
Saving money is always a plus, but the primary mission of the AAS Depot unit is to ensure the F-15 Eagle pilot with hot brakes lands safely using the AAS.
To read more about the 38th CTS missions, read the next series of, “A look inside the 38th CTS.”