76th AMXG shows Team Fairchild how to ‘Tinker’

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  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Fairchild leaders from the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings learned about bringing the “Art of the Possible” to Air Mobility Command maintenance operations for the first time during a visit to the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group Nov. 18-20 at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.


The Art of the Possible is a working philosophy that focuses on what an organization can accomplish in their operations utilizing resources on-hand. The 76th AMXG accomplished a 20 percent faster turnaround time using this method for their depot-level maintenance process, which reduces aircraft overhauls, engine repairs and other maintenance items throughout the lifespan of the aircraft. They are also cost-efficient by making most of their parts in-house.

The visit gave the active-duty 92nd and Washington Air National Guard 141st ARW leaders the opportunity to learn more about how to keep their shared KC-135 Stratotankers in flying-shape by applying processes learned to Team Fairchild’s biennial Stratotanker inspections.


Fairchild was the first classic association in AMC, where both active duty and ANG partner to share aircraft and resources to complete the mission as team.


“The Stratotanker is a key component to Fairchild’s unique Total Force Association,” said Col. Johan Deutscher, 141st ARW commander. “We share the responsibility of keeping our aircraft safe, maintained and flying for years to come. Our visit allows Team Fairchild to further synchronize our capabilities and continue to blaze a trail as an integrated team.”


Keeping the approximately 60-year-old Stratotanker ready to fuel Rapid Global Mobility is essential to both U.S. and allied forces’ operations for years to come.


“KC-135s are the primary air bridge of the Air Force,” said Col. Michael Allison, 76th AMXG commander. “Although we have the KC-10 Extender and project the KC-46 Pegasus in the Air Force’s future, there’s really no replacement in number or ability to provide the refueling mission than the KC-135.”


Each airframe in the Air Force inventory is scheduled to arrive at Tinker to receive depot-level maintenance every five years, which is coordinated through the aircraft’s major commands and Tinker’s System Program Office. Tinker Airmen service an average of 14 Team Fairchild KC-135s a year and a total of 70 KC-135s from around the Air Force.


“We work through the fleet of 196 KC-135s within five years,” Allison said. “We inspect for cracks and corrosion that may affect the aircraft and cause it to break down. By maintaining a five-year interval, we are able to properly inspect before major damage can happen.”


Tinker’s depot process includes inspection of the aircraft’s structure, flight controls, fuel cells and landing gear assembly. The entire process can take 88 to 200 days; some aircraft may require more time due to necessary major repairs.


“If an airplane is not flying, then it’s not useful to our mission,” said Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd ARW commander. “If we can reduce the number of days an aircraft is undergoing maintenance by applying the Art of the Possible during our inspections, we can keep our planes flying and increase our mission capabilities.”


Total force integration is one way the Air Force is using the Art of the Possible, showing that a collaborative effort delivers safe, high-quality, cost-efficient production that further enhances Rapid Global Mobility.