E and E: aircraft physicians

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

Imagine flying at 15,000 feet and all at once the engines stop, display screens power down, flight controls fail and the air becomes unbreathable.

As catastrophic as this may sound, mishaps like these are avoided regularly as a result of the 23rd Component Maintenance Squadron’s electrical and environmental specialists.

From cabin pressurization to engine control, these experts play a critical role in keeping Moody’s fleet of A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, HH-60G Pave Hawks and HC-130J Combat King IIs and their crews safe.

“Every aircraft in the Air Force relies on electronics to sustain airworthiness,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dan Nelson, 23rd CMS E and E back shop assistant section chief.  “The wires installed are the veins, the components are the organs, and we as E and E systems technicians are the doctors that keep these aircraft alive to ensure the mission is complete.”

Not only does Moody’s 19 E and E specialists manage a large sum of electronics on the aircraft, but they also maintain the lifesaving environmental systems.

 “Having an oxygen system available to the crew is essential.” said Nelson. “Once you climb to a certain altitude, you lose the ability to breathe because oxygen becomes thin and unavailable.”

E and E is the only on-base shop capable of repairing oxygen converters, which turn liquid oxygen to a breathable gas. If these systems aren’t maintained properly or the cockpit can’t retain a habitable environment, things can take a turn for the worse.

Nelson said often times when an aircraft’s electrical or environmental systems malfunction, they are tasked with troubleshooting each link in the system until the issue is found and corrected.

As a result of fixing these problems, E and E prevents unnecessary purchases of new equipment and inevitably helps save the Air Force money. In fact, at Moody, E and E has managed to save the Air Force $3.6 million this fiscal year by repairing parts that would otherwise need to be replaced.

“We may fix a little $5 part, compared to replacing the whole component, [costing] $10, 000,” said Senior Airman Cory Guibert, 23rd CMS aircraft E and E journeyman.

Savings like these are made possible through innovation and planning.

 “We’re always on top of what’s next, what went bad last time and what can we do better next time to prevent this problem,” said Nelson. “We look at what’s been happening and try to forecast what will happen so we can have a plan.”

Due to their precise planning, Guibert said most of their maintenance is routinely scheduled. Although occasionally he’ll come across something that may only be a minor repair, but the puzzle of troubleshooting the issue is the fun part.

 “I think it’s probably one of the best career fields to go into maintenance-wise because you get to learn such a broad spectrum of [skills],” said Guibert. “It is so detailed. It’s definitely a great learning experience.”

Seeing his fellow E and E Airmen working hard and recognizing their impact on the mission is what Nelson said keeps him motivated.

 “It’s extremely rewarding having our guys support these A-10s that go overseas and drop bombs on targets, knowing they’re a direct support of that,” said Nelson. “Or when they say ‘that part is not on base. We cannot [acquire] it at all,’ well guess what, E and E saved the day because we fixed that part.”