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With flying colors: Quality Assurance sets higher standards for aircraft maintenance

By David DeKunder | Wingspread staff writer | Aug. 17, 2007

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — From the shop to the runway, one unit at Randolph plays a behind-the-scenes role in the quality of maintenance being performed on the 12th Flying Training Wing's aircraft. 

The 12th Maintenance Directorate Quality Assurance Division ensures the people who maintain the base's aircraft are doing their jobs properly and safely. 

Brian Hall, 12th MX Quality Assurance Division chief, said the division oversees the work of 450 people in the maintenance directorate. 

"We average 300 inspections per month, which is over 3,600 per year," Mr. Hall said. 
"From a quality aspect part of it, we are responsible for everything that is done, from the maintenance to the service and launch and recovery of the plane." 

With 150 aircraft of four different types, flying more than 47,000 sorties annually, the QAD is responsible for making sure the base's maintenance operations deliver the aircraft to the flying squadrons in top condition so they can meet every operational requirement. 

Composed of 23 civilian personnel with more than 750 years of maintenance experience at the base, the QAD consists of 10 departments: quality assurance inspectors, contractor quality assurance evaluators, Lear Siegler Incorporated contractor liaisons, analysis office, training office, product improvement office, technical order distribution office, safety office and bio-environmental office. 

With the help and expertise of the QAD, Randolph maintenance personnel continue to pass their inspections with flying colors. 

"The Air Education and Training Command standard for passing maintenance inspections is 80 percent," Mr. Hall said. "Generally, in the maintenance directorate, we have passing rates of 95 percent, which indicates that base personnel are performing quality maintenance on the flight line." 

Before they can start working on aircraft, new maintenance personnel receive their training through the QAD's training office. The training office provides continued and updated aircraft maintenance training through classes and computer-based learning. The office schedules training sessions and maintains a training records data base for all maintenance personnel. 

Emphasizing safety is another job the QAD takes very seriously, Mr. Hall said. 

"Our office performs safety inspections in hangars and offices," he said.
Cody Pauley, 12th MX safety manager, said he conducts safety inspections throughout the year on aircraft equipment and workplace conditions. 

"I do spot safety inspections on ground and flying equipment," Mr. Pauley said. "We do annual inspections in the workplace to make sure we are in compliance with Air Force and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards." 

The emphasis on safety includes monitoring hazardous chemicals and materials that are used for aircraft maintenance. The division's bio-environmental office is responsible for making sure those chemicals and materials are disposed of according to federal and state regulations. 

The technical order distribution office makes sure maintenance personnel, mechanics, sheet metal workers and painters have the most up-to-date information and technical data about the aircraft they are working on. 

Maintenance records on how the aircraft are performing are kept in the analysis office. The analysis office maintains the status of mission capable aircraft and the reliability of certain aircraft components. 

The QAD also scrutinizes the work of maintenance contractors. The contractor quality assurance evaluators oversee the transient alert contract, which services the aircraft that fly into Randolph to refuel or stop overnight, and the Contractor Operated Maintained Base Supply, which supplies parts for the aircraft on base. 

Ronald Patterson, 12th MX director of aircraft maintenance, said the QAD has helped the maintenance directorate establish a good record of excellence and safety. 

"They set the standard of quality for all maintenance done on the aircraft," Mr. Patterson said. 

Because of the work of the QAD, Mr. Patterson said the 12th MX has performed well on two AETC inspections conducted within the last couple of years. 

"Both of the inspections were great for us because of the teamwork between the QAD and the 12th MX," Mr. Patterson said. "Mr. Hall's inspections cover the entire realm of aircraft maintenance. His job is to make sure we are prepared all the way around. He has assisted maintenance personnel in keeping the high standards they have set for themselves." 

Through teamwork, cooperation and attention to detail, the QAD is making sure maintenance will be one less issue pilots and navigators have to worry about when they are performing their missions.