News: Inspectors keep Icemen safe, flying
Story by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – Quality assurance Airmen are maintenance experts who work to identify trends, provide support and advice, and handle difficult or unique maintenance situations from the sections they inspect daily.
Food has the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gas pumps have weights and measures inspectors, and even buildings require experts to ensure quality and safety. Aircraft and their maintainers are no exception.
Maintaining “Excellence in all we do” is every Airman’s job, though for the Airmen of the 354th Maintenance Group quality assurance office, it's their sole mission.
Quality assurance Airmen are maintenance experts who work to identify trends, provide support and advice, and handle difficult or unique maintenance situations from the sections they inspect daily.
“QA is here to ensure quality of maintenance performed and adherence to technical data and standards,” said Master Sgt. Marshal Smith, 354th MXG chief inspector. “Without our inspectors, maintenance discipline would decline, ultimately resulting in incidents and mishaps. The QA section is largely responsible for the lack of class A and B mishaps at Eielson. We ensure a culture of quality and compliance.”
Smith said only the best technicians in each Air Force maintenance specialty are interviewed and selected to be an inspector. They are tasked with becoming the subject matter experts and spend a lot of their time reviewing regulations.
After two to three years, they return to their section with an expanded knowledge to share with the next generation of maintainers. This group of highly skilled and motivated Airmen is the eyes and ears of the commander.
Although the entire maintenance community benefits from quality assurance’s existence, and pilots receive highly functional and safe jets, a very important overlooked customer is the tax payer.
“The trend data collected by QA staff can be used as a cost reduction tool,” said Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Brown, 354th MXS QA superintendent. “QA reduces mistakes that can be very expensive to repair, sometimes millions of dollars.”
Overall, QA’s ultimate goal is safety. These experts say the life and safety of every pilot is impossible to put a cost on.