7th MXG leverages new technology

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mercedes Bizzotto
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 7th Maintenance Group recently fielded its first-ever wireless communication system during a B-1B Lancer launch, becoming the first B-1B unit to receive and utilize such headsets.

Prior to the introduction of the wireless headsets, B-1B aircrew pre-flight communication required one Airman to remain tethered to the communication port within the aircraft while another relied solely on hand signals. The limitations of the wired headsets and their accompanying ports made it impossible for multiple crew members to communicate simultaneously, yielding communication gaps and uncertainty.

Standard safety equipment during aircraft tows includes whistles and the use of hand signals to communicate,” said Chief Master Sgt. Justin Daigle, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron senior enlisted leader. “With this equipment, everyone on the tow team can be in constant communication with each other, greatly improving safety to the aircraft and, most importantly, our Airmen.”

A central communication gateway plugs into the aircraft, opening a connection to everyone wearing the equipment. The system allows up to four Airmen to connect and move about freely while maintaining contact with both the aircrew and each other during their checks. This flexibility speeds up and streamlines communication, eliminating room for error. With the equipment upgrade, all individuals involved in the launch hear discussions and directions directly, enabling aircrew to generate airpower faster and more effectively.

The headsets are utilized for more than just pre-flight and post-flight checks. Maintenance Airmen also rely on them to run tasks such as engine runs, system operational checks and aircraft towing operations.

The system is ideal for a large aircraft such as the B-1B,” said Col. Joshua Pope, 7th MXG commander. “By being able to connect multiple ground personnel together, we increase the safety of our Airmen while simultaneously improving oversight of aircraft ground operations.

Although wireless communication technology is not new, the 7th MXG had to overcome many challenges to employ it, including frequency and spectrum management, in addition to other operational security concerns. 

“Feedback from our Airmen during initial testing has been completely and overwhelmingly positive,” Pope said. “This initiative goes to show innovation does not have to always be revolutionary, but it can be evolutionary and leverage commercially proven and already available technology used in a new way.”