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Just in time

By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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In order to keep aircraft safe and on the leading edge of combat capability, they constantly undergo upgrades and maintenance.

Sometimes this maintenance is time sensitive or critical and must be completed by a specific date. In this case, a specific action known as a Time Compliance Technical Order is initiated to ensure the required maintenance is accomplished and the mission can continue to move forward.

Based on the urgency and nature of the maintenance, the TCTO is assigned a compliance period ranging anywhere from 24 hours to 48 months.

"We are constantly monitoring and making sure the maintainers are completing the TCTOs," said Tech. Sgt. Valerie Moody, 2nd Maintenance Operations Squadron wing TCTO monitor. "If we let any fall through the cracks, the due dates just keep jumping at you."

Safety issues which pose a potential threat to the crew or aircraft are given high priority and must be corrected before the aircraft can continue operation. When the engineers identify a problem with the B-52H Stratofortress, they want to get it fixed as quickly as possible, Moody added.

Although they are considered a priority, the TCTOs are not limited to safety issues. They can be assigned to tasks ranging from standard structural maintenance to the fleet as well as electrical and software upgrades.

Depending on the magnitude and scope of the issue, the maintenance is either performed here or outsourced to the B-52 depot located at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. If the issue or upgrade is beyond the capabilities of the equipment or personnel here, the aircraft or part is sent to the depot, said Moody.

Meanwhile, the 2 MOS TCTO monitors here are busy keeping track of more than 40 active TCTOs for various projects on base. These tasks are in addition to the normal scheduled maintenance for the B-52.

"Sometimes we schedule the TCTO during our weekly maintenance, but most of the shops are really good about getting them done quickly," said Moody.

As efficient and skilled as the maintainers are, sometimes they require outside assistance to meet the myriad of deadlines. For example, a current TCTO to upgrade software on the B-52 targeting system was contracted to a third-party company due to their expertise on the equipment being upgraded.

"Sometimes it's not feasible for the maintainers to work on their normal day-to-day operations and a TCTO, so we are contracted to perform it," said Larry Cook, a contractor with the company hired to assist with the upgrade.

With the 60 year-old aircraft undergoing constant maintenance and upgrades, the TCTO system performs similar to triage in a hospital, assigning levels of urgency to each individual issue. This ensures the most significant issues are handled first allowing the 2 BW to deliver continuous combat capability with stability and predictability.