Sheppard unit will train ALC maintainers

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeff Szczechowski
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
The 982nd Training Group, the Air Force's advanced maintenance training unit, joined with Air Force Materiel Command to tackle a critical need in the world of aircraft systems maintenance.

The 982nd TRG instructors will teach and certify 19 new civilian instructors who will join existing field training detachments at three AFMC air logistics centers.

These new instructors will train thousands of depot maintenance technicians needed to bolster the depot maintenance career field.

Sheppard is providing basic instructor course training and aircraft systems training so the civilian instructors can begin depot maintenance training in the months ahead. There will be eight new instructors at Warner-Robins ALC, Ga., six at Oklahoma City ALC, Okla., and five at Ogden ALC, Utah.

The depot maintenance work force is facing the possibility of severe shortages because an aging corps of technicians. The Air Force goal is to start training about 4,000 depot technicians annually.

Previously, AFMC's three logistics centers were able to schedule training for about 1,000 technicians per year. Now, with dedicated civilian instructors, the dramatic demand for increased training can be met.

"It's true that over the next five years we will have a major turnover in our workforce," said Col. Michael Moschella, chief of the aircraft division at the Oklahoma City ALC. "Having skilled, aircraft-specific instructors on site integrated into our workforce processes will make the training job-focused and readily available."

Field training detachment instructors assigned to Sheppard's 372nd and 373rd training squadrons provide training for depot maintenance technicians at all three air logistic centers, said Senior Master Sgt. Joe Rock, chief of the training management flight for the 373rd TRS. But more and more, instruction on a space-available basis became increasingly difficult since the increased demand for training became greater than the supply of instructors.

Also, because of a lack of local aircraft-specific classes, people often had to travel long distances to receive the training.

AFMC and Air Education and Training Command officials were able to address this "law of supply and demand" challenge by forging an agreement that created the 19 civilian positions, which are funded by AFMC. The new manpower was added to the rolls of the 982nd TRG, which is hiring and training the depot maintenance technician instructors, and will soon be providing systems training at the three logistics centers.

"The addition of field training personnel to our employee training arsenal is a major step in enhancing the aircraft-specific technical skills of our employees," said Moschella.

The new instructors are expected to begin training depot technicians at Warner-Robins as early as mid-May, and at Oklahoma City and Ogden soon afterward.

The importance of expanding upon and improving the current capability to train depot maintenance technicians is significant because they perform a critical service for the Air Force, said Rock.

The technicians provide major overhaul and repair of aircraft systems and spare parts including engines, missiles, components and software.

The career field is vast. Nearly 21,500 maintenance people within AFMC, along with 750 contractor organizations, provide more than $6 billion of depot maintenance goods and services annually. The Oklahoma City, Ogden and Warner-Robins ALC's own and operate more than $7.3 billion in facilities and equipment.

The new instructors will be the first FTD instructors under the 982nd TRG umbrella who are not active-duty airmen.

"We are definitely working outside of the box," said Rock, referring to the hiring of the civilians. "The only civilian instructors we have will be the ones at the air logistics centers."

Capt. Paul Sturges, director of operations for the 373rd TRS, said the three ALCs have invested more than $1 million to help train the new instructors. The money has been used to upgrade current classroom facilities and to buy computers and other supplies needed for the depot maintenance course. (Courtesy of AETC News Service)