Airfield systems Airmen keep aircraft flying

By Staff Sgt. John Gordinier 2d Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Most know that maintenance on aircraft and its systems are vital to mission effectiveness and safety. However, there are airfield systems that are used to launch and land aircraft safely. Who maintains those systems?

The 2d Communications Squadron's airfield systems maintenance technicians, maintain these airfield systems, which are used to keep aircraft flying in and out of Barksdale.

The small shop of eight work on four primary systems: the Instrument Landing System, the Tactical and Navigation System, the Air Traffic Control and Landing systems radio and the weather meteorology equipment or FMQ19.

"Basically, if our equipment fails, there would be no flying," said Staff Sgt. Desiree Jackson, 2d CS airfield systems maintenance technician. "It is a huge responsibility and a big part in the overall mission."

Sergeant Jackson said the ILS provides a pilot with landing information and the TACAN provides a pilot with bearing and azimuth information, "basically, a big global positioning satellite."

"If it was a cloudy, rainy or foggy day, the TACAN would be very important to the pilot, because it lets him or her know where they are at," Sergeant Jackson explained. "In bad weather, the TACAN is used along with other equipment to land the aircraft safely. If the TACAN is 'down' or malfunctioned, the pilot is practically blind."

Another important piece of equipment is the ATCALS, which is a radio that provides communication between the air-traffic controllers and the pilots, she said.

In order to prevent the airfield systems from malfunctioning, the technicians perform preventive maintenance inspections, an inspection that makes sure the equipment is operating perfectly and within standards. There are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and bi-annual PMIs on all the airfield systems equipment said Sergeant Jackson. Sometimes, the technician may have to make an adjustment or calibration, which is the reason for the inspection.

However, parts break and sometimes the equipment malfunctions. When that happens, the Airmen troubleshoot until the equipment is fixed and back online, which is the sergeant's favorite part of her job.

"When something breaks, I always enjoy trying to figure out what the problem is," she said. "Fixing the equipment gives you a sense of accomplishment."

A new airfield systems maintenance technician straight out of technical school agreed with the sergeant.

"We do a lot of hands-on work, which I enjoy the most," added Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Sales, 2d CS airfield systems maintenance technician. "I'm still new and in training, but I have been shadowing my supervisor and co-workers on jobs to learn more about the equipment. It's my job and I'm going to do it the best I can."

Airman Sales said he chose the career field after hearing his recruiter talk about the equipment and responsibility of the job.

"Upon hearing my recruiter's explanation, I saw it as a big asset for the Air Force and I wanted to be a part of that," Airman Sales concluded.

If Barksdale's airfield systems equipment malfunctions, rest assured the airfield systems maintenance technicians will arrive and get the job done.