Mech Tech molds master mechanics
link U.S. Air Force photo: Senior Airman Whitney Amstutz
Air Commandos assigned to the 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron perform checks on a CV-22 Osprey on the flightline Feb. 4 at Cannon Air Force Base. The 727 SOAMXS organizes, trains and equips 230 personnel in the maintenance and sustainment of CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft as well as MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft.
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The mirror image of the ever-evolving aircraft they maintain, Air Commandos assigned to the 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s 20th Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Cannon Air Force Base have made it their mission to roll three formerly independent career fields into one.
Proving the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ false, members of the 20 AMU are honing the skills to become effective crew chiefs, engine mechanics and hydraulics specialists through an innovative Mechanical Technician Program, affectionately dubbed, Mech Tech.
“Basically, the Mech Tech program is the merger of three career fields — crew chiefs, engines and hydraulics into one cohesive career field,” said Joe Newhart, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Group CV-22 Avionics Air Force Engineering and Technical Services. “Airmen in those fields performed similar functions, so an effort to consolidate personnel and work smarter rather than harder resulted in the program’s implementation.”
Always striving to be at the forefront of advancement, Cannon and the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., are the only bases currently utilizing the Mech Tech program to mold master mechanics.
“Air Force Speical Operations Command bases are taking advantage of the program exclusively at the moment,” Newhart said. “Word is spreading, however, and Airmen from bases such as Mildenhall, England, have traveled to Cannon to attend the program.”
Despite concerns that certain skillsets would become diluted in an information overload, Airmen have responded well to the training and are becoming well-versed in more aspects of maintenance than ever before.
“Like anything, a period of trial and error takes place,” Newhart said. “Overall, I think the Airmen who have completed Mech Tech training emerge with a better understanding of the aircraft itself. As an added bonus, we have maintainers able to accomplish a job that previously required three different career fields to perform.”
In addition to maximizing manpower and crafting proverbial renaissance men and women, the effects of the Mech Tech program are far-reaching and direcly contribute to Cannon’s ability to deliver airpower on time and on target.
“The program makes our Airmen more deployable because it allows them to do these three functions instead of doing individualized funcitons,” Newhart said. “Therefore, you can have a smaller footprint downrange, with increased efficiency — it’s a win, win.”