Friday, January 18, 2013

Debrief Keeps 442nd Jets Flying High

by Senior Airman Wesley Wright
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/14/2013 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- While they may spend long hours in the blue skies above Whiteman Air Force Base, even highly trained A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots have to come down sometime.

When the pilots land and begin their paperwork, they tell members of the 442nd Maintenance Squadron debriefing team how the aircraft performed.

Tech. Sgt. Donald R. Demarco, 442nd Maintenance Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of debrief, is one of the first points of contact for A-10 pilots when they return from flying.

"If there are any write-ups or discrepancies, we enter them into the computer," he said. "If their sortie was 'code 1,' no discrepancies, we just ensure the takeoff and land times are accurate and any information pertaining to the sortie is upchanneled to whomever needs to be notified."

Debriefers also serve a vital function in the wing, Demarco said, because of their role as communicators.

"We are kind of the liaison between operations, flying and maintenance," Demarco said. "We are the go-between guys."

Debrief partners with the expediter, Demarco said, who coordinates with him on code 3 write-ups, which grounds jets. Debrief also coordinates with the maintenance operation center, which functions as a nerve center for all A-10 activities and maintenance.

"Once we've grounded a jet, I'll call MOC and let them know," he said. "Then MOC will complete the cycle by notifying the expediter and finding out the estimated time of completion to get it fixed."

With scheduled maintenance on different parts in the A-10, Demarco must pay close attention to detail on the numbers and codes he enters.

Demarco said a simple typo can have a cascading effect on scheduled maintenance and aircraft availability -- potentiality impacting the mission.

While Demarco handles the day-to-day operations at debrief, Tech. Sgt. William Kemper, a traditional reservist with the 442nd Maintenance Squadron debrief office, is there on unit training assembly weekends to lend his expertise.

Kemper, who is a scheduler for B-52 Stratofortress maintenance at Tinker Air Force Base in his civilian job, has worked maintenance debrief for more than a decade.

"It's all about attention to detail," Kemper said. "If the numbers are off, it could jeopardize the pilot and the mission."

Lt. Col. Anthony Roe, 303rd Fighter Squadron chief of standards and evaluation and A-10 pilot, agreed that accuracy and attention to detail keep the mission running smoothly.

"It's a trickle-down effect," Roe said. "If a pilot doesn't get his sorties input correctly, that trickles down to him not being qualified for jobs, and that can affect deployment qualifications and continuity issues."

In addition to reporting issues to maintenance after landing, Roe said A-10 pilots call in issues via radio to operations 10 minutes before landing. This allows maintainers to meet the pilots at debrief to troubleshoot A-10 write-ups.

Troubleshooting issues immediately helps the mission here run safely and effieciently, Roe said.

"Safety, in this case, is a byproduct of good maintenance," Roe said. "The jets fly safely because they are in good shape, and because of that, the schedule is flown as planned."

Roe said he is continually impressed by the maintenance and operations at the 442nd FW.

"I've been at numerous installations," he said. "This is by far, on a consistent basis, the best jets on a day-to-day basis that I've seen in my 20-year career. Overall, it's the best operations and maintenance relationship as well."

As the A-10 pilots head back to their aircraft and take off into the wild blue, they can fly secure in the knowledge the maintenance debrief team is reporting issues and ensuring they can fly, fight and win.

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