News: Maintenance Operation Center: The eyes and ears of the flightline
Story by Senior Airman Bahja Jones
SOUTHWEST ASIA – A B-1B Lancer crew chief notices low tire pressure as he performs an inspection and alerts his superiors about the required maintenance. The 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group Maintenance Operations Center receives a call and the aircraft is placed in “red” status, alerting operations it is unavailable for use.
The MOC is responsible for maintaining a positive overview of all maintenance operations on the flightline for all 379th Air Expeditionary Wing assets.
“There are various different airframes here, and we keep track of everything from their fuel and weapons loads, to movement of the aircraft and injured personnel,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Segura, the 379th EMXG MOC senior weapons controller deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., and an El Paso, Texas, native. “Every part of aircraft maintenance we track and report to supervision so they can make decisions, based on the information we give them, for the next day’s air tasking order.”
As liaisons between the flightline and the group commanders here, the information they provide directly influences the daily flying operations and keeps leadership informed.
“We are the nervous center for the maintenance group,” said Senior Airman Demarius Jackson, a 379th EMXG MOC technician deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and an Atlanta native. “It’s our job to know anything that could affect an aircraft going up and doing its mission.”
Airframes supporting operations here are divided between individuals in the MOC, and they are responsible for maintaining a complete site-picture of their operations while on the flightline.
“Each controller collects data for their assigned aircraft and we pull information together into a readable and manageable format,” Segura said. “We take the big picture, condense it and give it to supervision to let them know what assets are available. If they need specifics then we are able to provide them with details.”
This is important, Segura explained, because in some instances an aircraft may still be able to fly, but unable to support certain types of missions.
The information is managed using a color coded, computer-based program tracking flying hours, discrepancies, status changes and an entire aircraft overview - anything done to an aircraft is documented.
Beyond the scope of maintenance, they also act as a service center organizing services on the flightline.
“We coordinate anything from toilet services to ambulances,” Segura said. “We are the ones who set things in motion providing first-line response.”
“If an accident or incident occurs on the flightline, the MOC is notified, and we start a checklist asking the appropriate questions and documenting the situation to notify commanders,” Jackson added.
With the largest flying operation in the U.S. Air Forces central command area of responsibility, the MOC here is manned 24/7 and the individuals are challenged to flex with the varying operation tempos.
“We encounter every scenario here as opposed to at home where we mostly do training missions,” Jackson said. “When I leave, I will be more proficient at my job, and I can bring back experiences from here to make the shop at home station even stronger.”
At the end of the day, once the final nuts and bolts are in place and the function check is complete on the tire, the B-1 crew chief sends a message back up to his chain of command. The MOC is notified, the status is changed to “green,” and the Lancer is now able to perform its mission.