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Last chance for life: US, PAF airmen exchange egress ideas

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Anthony Small
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force members from the 113th Maintenance Squadron participated in a subject matter expert exchange with Philippine Air Force 430th Aircraft Maintenance Group Egress personnel, during the Bilateral Air Contingent Exchange-Philippines, or BACE-P, at Cesar Basa Air Base, Jan. 22.

“Subject matter expert exchanges are an important way for us to learn (from) and teach our counterparts from partner nations,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ed Edens, 113th MXS egress systems mechanic. “It’s especially important for egress when you have to be on top of your job because we can’t (ops) test our system. Everything that we do has to be perfect.”

Egress is otherwise known as the “last chance for life.” The ejection seat itself is the last option for an aircrew member when it comes to surviving an unexpected aircraft or mechanical emergency.

Egress Airmen perform a full visual inspection of the ejection system which includes the seat and cockpit components. If anything is found broken or out of technical data specifications, it’s the egress technician’s job to ground the jet and pull the seat to repair the defect prior to returning the aircraft to flying status.

Edens brings with him 17 years of experience as a egress systems craftsman and has experienced emergency situations.

“I’ve experienced ejections in the past, and the first thing that goes through my mind, is did the pilot survive,” explained Edens. “Job satisfaction comes from ensuring the pilots are safe and we did our jobs well.”

Philippine Air Force Tech. Sgt. Roderick Domingo, 430th Aircraft Maintenance Group Egress systems craftsman, has 21 years of experience taking care of exit systems that guide pilots safely to the ground in case of an emergency.

“The exchange is a good opportunity to see the difference between (our two nations’) systems,” said Domingo. “It’s also good to talk with other egress members.”

Although ejections are rare, aircrews members must be able to rely on the egress Airmen’s skill and dedication to help ensure their safe return when met with a worst-case scenario. When all else fails, egress prevails.

The subject matter expert exchange is part of the seventh iteration of BACE-P established by U.S. Pacific Command and executed by Headquarters Pacific Air Forces. These exchanges provide the opportunity for U.S. and Philippine air forces to share best practices and deepen professional understanding and relationships.