HomeNewsArticle Display

Confined space trainer redefines training plan

U.S. Air Force Airman Shawn Bragg, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems apprentice, prepares to enter the confined space trainer Dec. 15, 2017 on RAF Mildenhall, England. The training unit was built in-house, using scrap metal. The alternative to the confined space trainer was purchasing an additional KC-135 Stratotank wing fuel tank or training on operational aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justine Rho)

Airman Shawn Bragg, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems apprentice, prepares to enter the confined space trainer on RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 15, 2017. The training unit was built in-house, using scrap metal. The alternative to the confined space trainer was purchasing an additional KC-135 Stratotank wing fuel tank or training on operational aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justine Rho)

U.S. Air Force Airman Shawn Bragg, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems apprentice, secures bolts inside the confined space trainer Dec. 15, 2017 on RAF Mildenhall, England. The conditions inside an actual wing fuel-tank are simulated inside the training unit to prepare Airmen. Trainees are required to wear personal protective equipment just as they would operationally.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justine Rho)

Airman Shawn Bragg, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems apprentice, secures bolts inside the confined space trainer on RAF Mildenhall, England, Dec. 15, 2017. The conditions inside an actual wing fuel-tank are simulated inside the training unit to prepare Airmen. Trainees are required to wear personal protective equipment just as they would operationally. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justine Rho)

RAF MILDENHALL, England (AFNS) -- The access point into the wing fuel tanks of a KC-135 Stratotanker is a hatch that is about the size of a commercial aircraft viewing window. After twisting and turning into that small opening, an Airman is immediately enveloped by the smell of jet fuel and complete darkness.

Aircraft fuels systems Airmen assigned to the 100th Maintenance Squadron have to become familiar with claustrophobic work spaces, such as the fuel tanks within the wings of an aircraft, in order to do their jobs. A team of Airmen within the 100th MXG, each contributing from their different sections and line of expertise, addressed the need to better prepare their personnel by creating a standalone confined space trainer.

“We had a large influx of new Airmen and to get them spun up and ready to do fuels systems maintenance it would take about three months until they can do their first job,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Goins, 100th Maintenance Group aircraft fuel systems craftsman. “The confined space trainer allows us to work with Airmen in a safe and controlled environment; instead of pulling an aircraft from the flight line, we can do training readily in the shop.”

Some priorities to the design of the trainer included authenticity and a design that allows instructors to easily observe and give instructions to Airmen inside the trainer. With the specifications in mind, the next step was to construct a unit that best simulated the conditions of an aircraft.

“Being in structural maintenance kind of centers around building parts for the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Trombley, 100th MXG aircraft structural maintenance craftsman. “I took a personal interest in the project because it’s not something we normally get to do and it gave me the opportunity to be creative. It was mutually beneficial for my section because we recruited [Airmen still in training] to assist in construction, which gave them upgrade training in our career field.”

To further the realism of the training unit, the team looked to the metals technology section to help fabricate a fuel tank hatch.

“They needed a door that closely simulated an aircraft fuel tank hatch, for entry and exit procedures, to help get their newer Airmen trained properly,” explained Staff Sgt. Montana Engelking, 100th MXG metals technology craftsman. “They procured us a door from the wing fuel tank of a Stratotanker. We then took precision measurements and basically reverse engineered the existing door geometry to cut out a door without having to buy a new one.”

“A wing section to use as a trainer would have cost about $500,000,” Goins said. “Our trainer has a total cost, including building hours, of about $2,000.”

It took multiple sections and motivated minds to make the confined space trainer into a reality.

“Innovation starts at the user level, so it’s important we keep trying to find ways to do our job better and more effectively,” Goins said.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
.@341MissileWing #Airmen recently participated in an integrated exercise, displaying the weapons & tactics used dur… https://t.co/6P4XGUVSFR
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Infinitely shareable, fully exportable — this is how these sharp Airmen described AERONet during a live demo at #CONJE
.@AFRL #Airmen help to create a lighter, thinner armor, enabling the #warfighter to fulfill the mission.… https://t.co/RBxlg1RRYP
RT @AFSpace: In order to combat rising threats in the space domain, the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Directorate at HQ, AF…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: #TuesdayThoughts - U.S. Air Force representing at this year's Paris Air Show @salondubourget! NATO allies and partners sit s…
#AirForce aims to revamp acquisition course, educating acquirers about weapon systems and how they are used in comb… https://t.co/y2WfRklotJ
Kudos and congratulations to this outstanding #Airman. https://t.co/YH8hk3OyKc
RT @ActingSecAF: Fanstastic first day @salondubourget with iconic @NASA astronauts like @WordenAlfred & @AstroHague! And great discussion…
Herculean Heights: Resilient leader at Youngstown reaches 10,000 hrs milestone. @910AW @USAFReserve #USAFhttps://t.co/dNmxl0nrmu
.@124FighterWing #pilot executes an austere landing at the Freedom Landing Strip, #NationalTrainingCenterhttps://t.co/HQ6xjGohcs
#USAF BMT is changing this #summer! #Airmen will spend more time on weapons familiarization, along w/ additions of… https://t.co/wlHwtx7XWO
#USAF #Airmen continues the process of making his childhood dream of playing professional football come true. https://t.co/iAl70c8GXS
The opening of Cargo City successfully transitions operations from the #USAF & Coalition Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Ba… https://t.co/K73PkhjpNY
RT @AirmanMagazine: It started as a dare between two pilots... The @usairforce Hurricane Hunters save lives by flying through hurricanes t…
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to this crew for making the right call and saving the life of a fellow service member. https://t.co/cP4KCIQFgD
The Space Test Program-2 will provide the #USAF with insight into the SpaceX booster recovery and refurbishing proc… https://t.co/qYhlj7Je9V
RT @ActingSecAF: Happy birthday @USArmy. 244 years of defending our nation. @SecArmy https://t.co/AfMoPxwbd8