To keep aircraft operating safely, efficiently, Sheppard instructors train maintenance depot technicians

  • Published
  • By Julie Svoboda
  • 82nd Training Wing

Like any other machine, Air Force aircraft need regular maintenance to operate safely and efficiently. Periodically that maintenance is beyond the scope of an operational base – that’s when an Air Logistics Complex, sometimes referred as “a depot,” comes in. While maintainers across the force are familiar with depot maintenance, what many don’t know is that the 82nd Training Wing, via the field training detachments of the 982nd Training Group, play a critical role in the success and effectiveness of these critical links in the aircraft maintenance chain.

“The Ogden Air Logistics Complex is a key enabler in the nation’s organic industrial base, focused on sustaining the Air Force’s advanced fighter platforms needed to achieve national security objectives,” said Maj. Gen. Kenyon Bell, Commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base – and former 82nd Training Wing commander. “This is a consequential mission with little margin for error—therefore, we must have a skilled workforce that is organized, trained, and equipped to perform depot level maintenance and Produce to Promise. Our people make it happen in the depot and they require specialized training; the 982nd is a crucial partner in ensuring our team is well qualified to perform our mission.”

Depot-level maintenance, which can take up to 18 months on some aircraft, includes disassembly, inspection, repair, upgrades, rebuilding, repainting and flight testing of aircraft as well as maintenance on aircraft engines. Instructors from the 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 3 at Ogden Air Logistics Complex, along with 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 6 at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex and Detachment 9 at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex provide vital training to the depot technicians who do this work.

“We work with the depot leadership to meet their specific training needs,” said Keith Smail, 372nd TRS Chief of Training Support. “We communicate at every level. The instructor supervisor works with depot maintenance to make sure we're providing the service that they need to fulfill their mission.”

One of the unique aspects of training depot maintenance technicians is that they are mostly civilian. While some technicians are prior active-duty maintainers, many have no previous experience in aircraft maintenance. The instructors at the 982nd TRG provide full-length, formal courses or targeted training sessions depending on the requirements of the depot to ensure all technicians have the knowledge and skills needed to work on the aircraft at their location.

The main advantage of training civilians to work as depot technicians is freeing active-duty Airmen to work at operational bases.

“It actually reduces the requirement of having active duty Air Force or Guard and Reserve members fill those positions at the depots,” said Leonard Krombel, 373rd TRS Chief of Training Support,  “We can pull a civilian off the street, train them, and they can do the same quality of work, but the uniformed Airman is free to deploy and go into the fight. Meanwhile the civilians at the depot are producing great planes and making sure the inspections are completed and everything is good to go when the plane reaches that unit downrange.”

Delivering relevant, timely and customized training to the Air Logistics Complexes is one more way the 82 TRW ensures Air Force combat capability across the globe.