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Teaching maintenance
Senior Airman Eric Abes-Guzman, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron airframe power plant general Field Training Detachment 5 student, sits with two of his classmates during a lecture about the technical orders they will use to help maintain the B-52H Stratofortress. The FTD teaches the class about the aircraft specific items from nose to tail and everything in between with a hands-on approach to learning. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland)(RELEASED)
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Teaching maintenance

Posted 7/23/2012   Updated 7/23/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

7/23/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- An Air Education and Training Command detachment here single-handedly helps to keep the aging B-52H Stratofortress fleet mission-ready and able to defend the nation.

The 372nd Training Squadron Field Training Detachment 5, based out of the 982nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, teaches aircraft maintainers the details about the B-52H here and at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

"FTD serves as an integral part to accomplish the maintenance on the flightline," said Master Sgt. Timothy Hines, 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief section chief.

Crew chiefs all have to go through the FTD course regardless if they are coming from tech school or if they've been in for many years. These crew chiefs learn how to be general crew chiefs at Sheppard, but FTD teaches crew chiefs about the specifics of every jet that they work on.

"FTD at Barksdale has almost 40 years combined B-52 experience between the five APG instructors," said Tech. Sgt. Raul Guzman, 372 TRS FTD 5 airframe power plant general instructor. "We teach the why and how of the technical orders that the crew chiefs use everyday."

During the two-to-six week course, APG instructors teach the students everything from the nose of the aircraft to the tail, and everything in between. They teach crew chiefs a combination of basic theory, hands-on wrench turning and troubleshooting.

The students are at FTD for so long that many of the APG instructors begin to think of them as their kids, said Guzman. The instructors teach them from beginning to end and watch the students grow into knowledgeable B-52H mechanics.

"FTD is a necessary class whether you're here for a long or short time." said Senior Airman Eric Abes-Guzman, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, FTD student. "FTD teaches you how to be a subject matter expert of the aircraft."

Instructors don't just teach classes, they develop a bond with their students and many times stay in contact with current and prior students.

"I try to break things down baby food style. That way it is easy for the students to swallow and process." said Guzman. "We not only teach classes, we mentor to former students that come to us for questions or advice on unique problems."

Each APG instructor at FTD, when not scheduled for a class, spends their time studying about their instruction topics. They review technical orders, submit changes to the Idea Program, and help the flightline crew chiefs prepare for upcoming consolidated unit inspections. This preparation can help reduce Tech Data Violations and Direct Safety Violations.

"FTD is the crew chiefs' next level of training after tech school," said Master Sgt. Percy Vaughn, 20th AMU crew chief section chief. "They get the knowledge and one-on-one training on the actual aircraft they will be working on."

Detachment instructors are maintainers teaching maintainers.

All the FTD APG instructors are experienced B-52H maintainers. To become instructors, crew chiefs must pass an interview process, have a Community College of the Air Force degree, earn outstanding Enlisted Performance Reports and be the best of the best at the job they will teach. In essence, it's the best maintenance instructors teaching caretakers of a more than $78 million aircraft.

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