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Electrical and Environmental systems breathe life into the B-52

By Airman 1st Class Andrew Moua 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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The 2nd Maintenance Squadron accessories flight electrical and environmental section maintains and repairs power systems and replenishes aircrew life support gear, ensuring the aircraft's nervous system continues to function properly.

The electrical systems inside aircraft can be compared to the nervous system inside the human body, with wiring acting as nerves to control engines and monitor various systems contained within.

"The short version of our job description is we are in charge of maintaining the life support systems and electrical and power systems that run the aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Remy Voison, 2 MXS accessories flight electrical and environmental section chief. "A majority of the work we do is conducted during phase inspections of the aircraft and during the 14 day period we have the aircraft. We look for worn wires and replace them or perform a general assessment of the aircraft's systems to ensure they are operating properly."

The E and E section employs 22 personnel to cover all of Barksdale's B-52H Stratofortress. With constant repairs and maintenance to be done, and aircraft continually coming into the phase hangar for inspection, the work load is at a constant high.

"There's never a time where we're not busy," said Remy. "Whether it is back here or on the flightline, we never stop. In a sense, I feel our small size gives us a chance to perform better, as we have more to work on and thus are able to perfect our craft and become the best at what we do. As small as we are, we have a huge responsibility to ourselves and to our mission to get the job done."

Although most of the work the E and E section does is done during phase, there is still work to be done in-house.

"Work here at the shop includes overhauling oxygen and carbon dioxide bottles, and repacking the life support systems, such as flotation vests and inflatable rafts, on the aircraft," said Voison. "Most of the work is filling up these bottles. We take them apart and replace valves, perform leak checks and the overall well-being of the bottle. These bottles supply aircrew with the oxygen and a method to inflate the life support systems contained within their survival kits should they find themselves downed over water."

New Airmen arriving to the E and E section must be supervised until they receive their 5-skill level before they can work on an aircraft by themselves. Supervisors serve as mentors and teachers to the junior Airmen to promote good work ethic and create better technicians.

"NCOs in our shop are always willing to help out the newer Airmen," said Master Sgt. Matthew Beam, 707th Maintenance Squadron accessories flight assistant section chief. "With these aircraft as old as they are, it can be a challenge for some of the newer Airmen. Myself and other NCOs are always willing to assist Airmen who are having difficulties fixing or installing a piece of hardware. Being able to work alongside the younger Airmen allows me to show them how things are done, and pass on my expertise to enable them to become better maintainers."

The E and E section breathes life into the B-52 because without electricity the aircraft cannot run and without oxygen the aircrews can't breathe. All maintenance sections work in tandem with each other through effective communication, coordination and knowledge to ensure Barksdale's mission of dropping bombs on target runs without a hitch said Voisin.

"I'm not saying we're the most important, but we are one of the most vital," Voison said. "We are where things begin. We control the power systems on the aircraft, and if one section is shut off or malfunctioning it creates work stoppages that can seriously hamper our ability to get the job done."