Hoosier maintainers ‘catch a brake’ on a subzero Saturday; find 'smoking gun'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexis Morris

With a max landing weight in excess of 230,000 pounds, the brakes on a KC-135R Stratotanker are routinely put to the test.

When frigid Indiana temperatures hit in late January, maintainers noticed aircraft 60-0364’s anti-lock braking system may not have been working quite right.

“When the crew chiefs were working on their inspections, they noticed that one of the tires had a pretty substantial flat spot,” said Tech. Sgt. Adrian Bryant, 434th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft electrical and environmental technician. “And they were going to change it, but they wanted to make sure that after they changed it, the same thing wasn’t going to happen again.”

Similar to the anti-lock brake system installed in modern cars, the KC-135R’s landing gear requires a technology that prevents the aircraft’s wheels from locking up when brakes are applied.

Referred to as the anti-skid system, the technology plays a critical role in regulating brake pressure for the tanker, especially during less-than-ideal weather conditions.

During a recent in-depth inspection of the system, the 434th AMXS team discovered that a speed transducer arm on one of the wheels was severely bent, erroneously causing the anti-skid system to believe that the wheels were locking up.

“We definitely found a smoking gun,” shared Bryant, who further explained that checks like these are infrequent, as they are typically only conducted when issues occur.

Once the arm and tire were both replaced a full operations check required the support of additional Airmen assigned to various shops across the squadron.

“We need a lot of eyes on all of the tires and brakes to make sure the aircraft is good to go because there’s a lot happening at once. If you’re not looking at every system at one time, it’s easy to miss something,” explained Bryant.

As a result of the check, AMXS was able to verify that the tanker’s tire and anti-skid system not only met standards but were deemed airworthy and able to conduct flight operations once again.

“Maintenance is a mission that doesn’t stop,” says Bryant, who has served 10 years with the Hoosier Wing. “It doesn’t matter what conditions are like, and during inclement weather, it is what it is. You get out there and you get the job done.”

“Our goal has always been to reduce any possibility of repeat or recurrent problems, and this is just one example,” said Col. Arianne Mayberry, 434th Maintenance Group commander. “Our team has had incredible attention-to-detail and has been vigilant at getting to the root cause of any issue. This time it was presenting as “just a flat spot” on a tire, but because our maintainers are so inquisitive, they didn’t just change the tire, they found this deeper anti-skid discrepancy and were committed to fixing it…Proud to be MXG!”