First KC-46A Pegasus completes C-check milestone

  • Published
  • By Ron Mullan
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

An historic first for the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex occurred Nov. 2, 2020, when the first KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft completed C-check maintenance by the 568th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The aircraft, from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing stationed at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, spent 52 days undergoing maintenance. This also marks the first time in Air Force history that a fleet of aircraft will use Federal Aviation Administration techniques.

Joe Scott, 568th AMXS Production Flight chief, said a C-check is an aircraft inspection similar to commercial maintenance processes that airlines perform on their fleets.

“The check involves service and lubrication equivalent to an oil change; visual inspections looking for damage and defects; operational checks to ensure primary and backup systems are functioning properly; and washing the aircraft,” he added.

Compared to traditional programmed depot maintenance, the C-check is less invasive. Legacy aircraft such as the B-1, B-52 and KC-135 undergo significant structural repairs and replacement of major components, such as engines and landing gear, due to the age of the aircraft. C-checks have shorter maintenance durations primarily replacing batteries and filters.

John Austin, 568th AMXS Production Support Flight chief, said the C-check required the dedicated efforts of 100 maintainers and 50 support staff from the 568th AMXS, who spent 5,000 man hours on the aircraft.

According to Austin, KC-46A aircraft will be scheduled for C-checks every two years. “That means 16-46023 will return in September 2022,” he said.

Currently, the KC-46 campus has only one operational hangar, and while that didn’t have an impact on the first aircraft, workers will have to get more creative in managing hangar space as more aircraft come to Tinker for their C-checks in the future.

“For the following jets, work can be accomplished on the ramp and careful attention is being taken to keep the workforce safe while returning a quality aircraft back to the warfighter,” Scott said.

Col. Greg Lowe, 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander, said the goal is to return a safe and reliable aircraft to the warfighter, so they can accomplish their various missions.

“The KC-46 has important roles in aerial refueling, cargo and passenger transportation, and battlefield command, control and communication,” Lowe said. “By following the tenets of our (Art of the Possible) management system, AMXG mechanics minimize the time the aircraft spends on the ground while ensuring those mission-critical systems operate as designed for many years.”

Gene Harris, 568th AMXS director, said he is proud of the “can do” attitude his people demonstrate on a daily basis to accomplish their mission.

“The men and women of the 568th AMXS display pride and patriotism daily as they perform maintenance because they understand that an Airman down range is relying on the aircraft to accomplish their mission,” Harris said. “The team is doing an outstanding job of merging existing Air Force processes with new commercial maintenance concepts, which will sustain the KC-46 for the next 50 years.”

Harris also commented on the new KC-46 campus.

“It is inspiring touring the campus,” he said. “Everything is new: facilities, plane, toolboxes and maintenance stands. The workforce is excited about the work they do and I am honored to lead this squadron and support our nation’s defense.”