Staff Sgt. Anthony Tanner installs cat track guides into an extended reach deicer truck Jan. 6, 2012, in the vehicle maintenance special purpose shop at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. The extended reach deicer truck’s purpose is to remove ice from the wings of large aircraft, enabling them to fly. Tanner is a vehicle maintainer assigned to the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz)
A burnt broiler unit that was replaced from a standard deicer truck is displayed Jan. 6, 2012, in the vehicle maintenance special purpose shop at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. Seven Airmen from the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron replaced a standard deicer truck’s heater canister and supporting hardware in seven hours. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz)
by Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office
1/11/2012 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan (AFNS) -- Seven Airmen from the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron here replaced a standard deicer truck's heater canister and supporting hardware in seven hours Dec. 27, 2011, -- a task that is nearly impossible according to the manufacturer.
When the standard deicer truck was brought into the vehicle maintenance special purpose shop, the charred paint on the outside was only the first indicator they had a huge issue. The internal damage to the standard deicer was beyond what any of the Airmen had ever experienced.
"We saw that the heating element had internally combusted and shot out the side," said Staff Sgt. Chris Coleman, a 376th ELRS vehicle mechanic.
The Global 1800 standard deicer truck's purpose is to remove ice from aircraft, enabling them to fly. There are seven standard deicers here, and this was the fourth one out of commission due to maintenance issues that day.
"Deicers are mission critical to get the aircraft in and out of here as fast as we can" said Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Beaulieu, the 376th ELRS vehicle maintenance superintendent.
Consequently, with only three standard deicers operational, snow falling and more to come in the forecast, the Airmen knew what had to be done.
According to Beaulieu, it was going to cost $35,000 to replace the entire unit that was damaged. The manufacturer estimated repairs would take a minimum of one week in their shop stateside and weeks for parts to arrive back here.
Therefore, vehicle maintenance shop Airmen came up with a plan -- take the parts needed from another decommissioned standard deicer to replace this unit. Once the Airmen started carrying out their plan, they discovered how difficult it really was.
"The heater was turned up like a rusty fish hook," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Tanner, a 376th ELRS vehicle mechanic. "It took a while to get it out, but we made it happen."
The maintainers learned a lot more about how the standard deicer works and how the systems all mesh together.
"This was the most in-depth I've ever gotten with one of these particular vehicles," Coleman said.
Two shifts, seven Airmen and seven hours of maintenance work later, the vehicle maintainers were ready to put all their hard work to the test. It was time to start the standard deicer.
"When it fired up and worked, we were all excited and happy," Coleman said.
The standard deicer was back to work within 24 hours from the time it went down. The actual maintenance took seven hours straight to complete, but all of the planning, coordinating and communicating to the manufacturer took some additional time.
"We are ecstatic to get these vehicles on the flightline to ensure that our aircraft get up regardless of snow," Beaulieu said. "(It's important) to support our missions of airlift, air refueling and getting the men and women into and out of the area of responsibility."
1/17/2012 8:07:59 AM ET I have great great respect for maintainers all around. I'm a non-rated comm guy but having worked with them on two deployments in various capacities to see how hard they work in almost always difficult circumstances such as having no parts blazing heat freezing cold dangerous environs high opsdeployment tempo etc etc to make the impossible possible. They truly are the core of the Air Force mission.
go Mx go, USA
1/12/2012 12:13:34 PM ET USAF making the impossible easy.
TSgt Retired, USA
1/11/2012 5:08:47 PM ET Great job I would expect nothing less from our outstanding Air Force members. God Bless You
Debbie, Randolph AFB TX
1/11/2012 5:01:49 PM ET Now that sounds like true Air Force Maintenance and Dedication. Great going team
Dennis Dudley, New York
1/11/2012 2:49:43 PM ET That's VM for you. Good job guys. I remember when our shop did a complete engine swap in 9 hours on a EOD HMMWV. They say thats impossible too. Thats how we do. With out maintenance no mission can be done