100th MXS team takes corrective, preventive measures to ensure 100th ARW tankers stay fit-to-fly

  • Published
  • By Karen Abeyasekere
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 100th Maintenance Squadron has recently replaced non-conforming vertical stabilizer pins on some of Royal Air Force Mildenhall’s fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers as part of an Air Force-wide inspection.

Several bases saw their tankers restricted from flying following a Time Compliance Technical Order inspection, which details the requirement for some vertical stabilizer pins to be replaced.

Maintainers here took the initiative to immediately perform detailed inspections and check all pins. They found the non-conforming pins were fitted in some of the 100th Air Refueling Wing’s aircraft, so immediately ordered new parts and started fitting them Feb. 24, 2023. The affected pins have since all been replaced.

“The component reliability concern was discovered (in the U.S.) in mid-February, which drove a one-time inspection of our entire fleet, which ultimately drove the replacement of these pins,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Ryan, 100th MXS maintenance flight chief.

“It had been found that the material composition has not been manufactured to a specific dimension and consistency. Our inspection to see if we carried the parts in questions was a strictly corrective measure, to prevent structural failure. Once we were able to identify that we did in fact have some of these specific parts, we liaised with the engineering team at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, for a way forward.”

Contractors at Tinker AFB then provided an alternate part number needed to replace the pins, and the new parts were immediately ordered.

Ryan explained that the first jet that had pins replaced that morning was also the first KC-135 receiving pin changeout within the U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa theater, and the procurement was prioritized was based on the dynamic mission at RAF Mildenhall, and real-world activities.

There are four pins on each vertical stabilizer, two at the front and two at the rear, and on all the 100th ARW jets with the affected part, only the rear pins needed replacing.

“Our team – made up of approximately 10 Airmen – is single-handedly giving back a safe and reliable aircraft to the fight,” remarked Ryan. “Their swift actions and hard work prevented the aircraft from being restricted, and they’re using their expertise of flight control and structural integrity to get the job done.”