Teamwork spans across miles of water

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Erin Kingsley-Smith
  • 40th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
While they may not ride the same shuttle to work or eat in the same dining facility, members of the 40th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron are very much a part of the deployed 40th Air Expeditionary Wing.

The 40th EMXS is located at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and provides contingency phase inspections on B-52 Stratofortress aircraft. This service eliminates extended flights back to home stations for required phase inspections, saving combat flying hours and extending aircrew availability.

"This saves the crews and the aircraft 40 hours of transit time for each contingency phase we perform," said Maj. Michael McManus, commander of the 40th EMXS. "It also reduces the need for tanker support because B-52s don't need to refuel between Guam and the forward operating location."

Since Guam is an American territory, the turn time for receiving aircraft parts ordered through the supply system is considerably shorter than it would be on foreign soil, said Chief Master Sgt. Michelle Bailey, superintendent of the squadron.

Each B-52 can receive a maximum of three contingency phase inspections before it has to return to its home base in the continental United States for a full-phase inspection.

A typical contingency phase inspection takes about 48 hours and consists of repairing any maintenance discrepancies; changing hydraulic fluid, engine oil and fuel filters; and washing, inspecting and lubricating the aircraft, McManus said. To date, the team of more than 50 people has performed 37 contingency phase inspections since December.

"None of this would have been possible without the outstanding support we've received from the 36th Air Base Wing at Andersen, not to mention our Navy brethren stationed here, who have also contributed to several maintenance fixes," Bailey said.

The squadron's efforts over the past year have returned 11,400 flying hours to the forward operating locations for OEF.

"The 40th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron's support of our B-52s dramatically improves our warfighting capability," said Col. Kevin Kennedy, commander of the 40th AEW. "We're fortunate to have their expertise and support."

McManus said squadron members often work 14- to 16-hour days for two to three weeks at a time to ensure the job got done. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)