Wheel, tire shop keeps Combat Flightline rolling

2nd Lt. Don Morris
86th Maintenance Squadron

***image1***Shops off the flightline contribute significantly to the Combat Flightline program. One such shop is the 86th Maintenance Squadron’s Wheel and Tire Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility.
No, it’s not where KMC members take their privately owned vehicles to get a flat repaired or tires rotated. It’s a maintenance shop that receives worn or cut C-130 wheel and tire assemblies through the supply system.
“Sometimes pallets of them come in all at one time,” said 1st Lt. Todd Pincombe, Maintenance Flight commander, 86th MXS. “Then the assemblies are broken down into dozens of components, inspected and assembled for use on the premier tactical airlift aircraft around the European and Southwest-Asia theaters.”
The CIRF part of the name indicates that Ramstein’s wheel and tire shop builds assemblies for multiple users, not just the U.S. Air Forces in Europe C-130E fleet stationed at Ramstein. The wheel and tire shop officially stood up February 2003. U.S. Air Forces in Europe Logistics Directorate, Aircraft Maintenance Division, set the facility’s goal at 100 serviceable assemblies per month which seemed unattainable with their normal average of approximately 12 assemblies per month, the small shop size and only two permanent party staff members.
However, the facility operates with additional temporary duty crew chiefs, supply and structural maintenance technicians. They also set their sights on a larger facility with nearly four times the floor space, doubled their equipment and greatly modernized the operation.
In addition, they worked hard to reduce duplicate processes and put all supporting functions under the same roof versus farming out the work to other shops, said Lieutenant Pincombe.
Quite a few TDY people have now come and gone since starting the operation, but the work continues to build upon new people’s good ideas.
The mission of the shop, “to provide safe and reliable C-130 main and nose assemblies to complete the Air Force mission throughout Europe and Southwest Asia,” is key to their success, according to Staff Sgt. Bruce Hegner, NCO in charge of the wheel and tire facility.
Since this operation started a year ago, shop personnel have inspected more than 80,000 individual items and produced more than 1,100 serviceable assemblies. Once completed, the new assemblies are shipped to more than 16 locations supporting four different major commands.
In December, the facility surpassed all projected expectations culminating in a single-month record of 204 assemblies, which showed its true potential of what could happen once the right parts at the right place and at the right time, said Lieutenant Pincombe.
“Most of these assemblies were used on aircraft flying in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom,” he said. “Additionally, not a single C-130 supported by the shop missed a mission due to the lack of a wheel and tire assembly, and this would also not be possible without the support of the transportation community that got the repaired assets back into the supply system.”
The wheel and tire success story is just one of the many crucial back shop processes that must occur to ensure the C-130 mission is accomplished safely and timely resulting in cargo and personnel being delivered wherever the mission demands.
Combat Flightline is all about setting an atmosphere for success. Whether it’s the crew chief refueling the aircraft or the technician inspecting the wheel hub for cracks, it’s a team effort to meet the Air Force’s most demanding mission of “fixing and flying aircraft.”