The 86th Maintenance Squadron completed its final isochronical inspection on the C-130E Hercules aircraft July 22 on Ramstein as it continues to add the C-130J Super Hercules models to its fleet.
The final C-130E model, tail No. 7897, was the last of its kind to go through the 10-day inspection process. An isochronical inspection, or ISO inspection, is much like a tuneup for the aircraft and is performed every 420 days. The inspection process starts off with washing the plane, and continues with inspections on everything from the engine to the electric system.
“Basically, every 420 days, the planes have to come in to the shop and be inspected to make sure everything is running smoothly,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan McGahan, 86th MXS ISO coordinator. “We have at least one inspection each month, and it is our job to make sure we catch the things that wouldn’t be caught out on the flightline.”
The importance of the ISO inspection is one that is not taken lightly, Sergeant McGahan said. “One thing that I have seen is a small crack in the fuel line, but had it not come in here for the inspection, it would have never been caught,” Sergeant McGahan said. “We tend to find a lot of little stuff that if not fixed would be detrimental to the aircraft. If we don’t find it, then it is unlikely that anyone will find it; the problem could be preventing a disaster.”
Without the hard work from the maintainers, the pilots and aircrew would not be able to perform their job efficiently.
“Without the maintainers we would not be able to get up in the air,” said 1st Lt. James Stikeleather, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot. “The planes are always ready to go when we need them, and I know the maintainers are out there before and after us to ensure our safety. The 86th MXS prevents disasters from happening with all of the inspections they perform.”
Those working on the aircraft have a lot of responsibility to make sure everything is in tiptop condition.
“My job is very important,” said Staff Sgt. David Miller, 86th MXS aerospace maintenance craftsman. “I am in charge of the wings, so one of the many things I would look for is structural damage. It is my duty to make sure other shops who will deal with the wings of the aircraft comply with the correct regulations.”
The inspection is not just about passing, but most importantly about making sure the aircraft is running correctly.
“If I didn’t do my job correctly, there could be extreme consequences,” Sergeant Miller said. “Since my key area is the wings, if they were not working properly, it could be catastrophic. The plane might not be able to land or take off, and just simply function properly.”
After the inspection is completed, the quality assurance team comes out to give the green light on the aircraft.
“I have never seen a plane fail the ISO inspection,” added Sergeant McGahan. “If QA sees a problem, that area fails and we come out and fix it before it leaves the hangar.”
While this is the last time a C-130E model will be inspected at Ramstein, the first C-130J model is scheduled to get its first tuneup in June 2010.