Since the KC-46 landed at Tinker Air Force Base on Sept. 10, employees have rolled up their sleeves and gotten to work.
The first plane that landed has already been taken apart for its “C-Check.”
“What you’re trying to do is inspect and find damage before it comes to a long, drawn out process,” KC-46 Squadron Director Gene Harris said.
In nearly two months, dozens of eyes will inspect each plane from top to bottom and bottom to top.
Inspections are similar to that of passenger jets, which is required by the FAA. It’s the first in the United States Air Force’s history that such maintenance is being performed on an Air Force aircraft.
“We’ll do fuel checks, we’ll do leak checks to make sure that the fuel tanks are sound,” Harris said. “We wash the aircraft while it is here as well and then we do a weight and balance to make sure that the aircraft is airworthy before we return it back to Altus Air Force Base.”
There is plenty of work to go around. Since the first KC-46 arrived, two more have since landed for maintenance.
A portion of work is being done outside with only one hangar in operation.
“We are very closely watching for winds like what we have today, rain to make sure we keep out employees safe and we can keep the aircraft safe as well,” said Col. Greg Lowe, Commander of the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group.
Two hundred of the 1,300 anticipated positions have been filled so far. It’s work ethic the Air Force has come to love.
“Oklahomans bleed red, white, and blue just like our airmen, soldiers, sailors, and marines do,” Lowe said. “It’s amazing to see this workforce operate and be genuinely motivated by what they can do for our nation.”
It will take another 10 years before all 14 hangars are built. As they are completed, new jobs will come with it.