What's the 5th Maintenance Group's key to success? Training!

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alyssa Bankston
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

Class is in session. The 372nd Training Squadron, Detachment 22, is an Air Education and Training Command detachment with its host command at Sheppard AFB, Texas. Det. 22 delivers aircraft maintenance training to Airmen assigned to the 5th Maintenance Group.

“We have a really big focus on empowering people and giving them the tools that they need to do their job better and giving them the confidence to do it,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Orvieto, 372nd TRS, Det. 22 senior enlisted leader.

Orvieto said Det. 22 is the third stop for new Airmen assigned to the 5th Maintenance Group. Maintenance Airmen will first go to basic military training, where they are challenged mentally and physically and learn the basics of Air Force life. After BMT, maintenance Airmen attend technical school to learn the basic principles of their career field. Once they graduate from technical school and receive their assignment to the 5th Maintenance Group, they report to their work center and start working. Shortly after, they go to the field training detachment to learn about the specifics of maintaining the B-52H Stratofortress. 

“Here you get the chance to talk to the instructor and get feedback on how you’re doing and build your confidence up so you can go back to the flight line and lead a team of people and have confidence in what you’re doing,” said Orvieto.

Det. 22 trains Airmen assigned to 11 different career fields with classes as short as six hours or as long as 40 days, depending on the career field. 

“The training that we offer here is on many different spectrums from engine theory, all the way to crew chief jobs changing tires, to avionics jobs,” said Tech. Sgt. Bryce Mathew Weaver, 372nd TRS, Det. 22 non-commissioned officer in charge and B-52H avionics instructor.

Airman 1st Class Nayeli Ruiz, 5th Maintenance Squadron crew chief and 372nd TRS, Det. 22 student, has been stationed at Minot AFB since March. Ruiz worked in the phase dock until August when she started training at Det. 22. Ruiz is expected to complete her training in October. 

“I love the small class environment and being able to ask questions freely and getting that answer either immediately or written down and followed up,” said Ruiz. “I like how small the class is and how it's more hands-on.”

Orvieto described his experience as a student as a beneficial step in his career. Completing this training allowed him to take time to read about the system theory and understand how things work in order to build on his troubleshooting skills rather than just following technical orders.

“On the flight line, a lot of times we have to get the mission done and you're still following the TOs, you’re still following all the data, but sometimes the translation of why a system isn't working right or what parts connect to these other parts, that information is best taught in a classroom environment where you don't have the stressors of the flight line,” said Weaver.

Upon completing their training at Det. 22, Airmen are prepared to do the job to the best of their abilities and are sent out on the flight line.

Orvieto described his experience as a Det. 22 student in 2011 as having limited technology. He talked about the projectors, pulldown screens and how everyone used paper documents. Over the last few years, Det. 22 was able to modernize their technology by collaborating with different agencies including AFWERX, a U.S. Air Force program that encourages an innovative culture within the service.

“We’ve been in touch with Sparkworks as well as Barksdale and Sheppard headquarters, transitioning from hands-on training to virtual reality training,” said Weaver. “We have come a long way from starting with essentially nothing. We’ve actually been starting the process of building courses so that instead of going on the flightline having a dedicated aircraft that we have to train Airmen on, we can do it in a virtual reality environment so they can still have that hands-on experience without impacting the mission requirement.”

By communicating with other bomber training detachments across the U.S. Air Force, Det. 22 incorporated new technology into its curriculum, such as virtual reality headsets, a 3D printer, new monitors, new computers and new SMART Boards in every room.

“It seemed like back in the day, Det. 22 was just kind of like a broom closet,” said Orvieto. “Now we’re up and coming.” 

Det. 22 is working with the training detachment at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and a company called HTX Labs to build a virtual reality product that would allow students and their instructors to put on a headset and do tasks in a virtual hangar without leaving the classroom.

3D printing has also found a place in the innovative training at Det. 22. Here, Det. 22 has used their 3D printer for training by printing a model of a B-52H Stratofortress engine so students can improve their comprehension of how the engine functions.

“We’re using the technologies that are available to us to improve our training,” said Orvieto. “One of the major things we can do is inspire people to really care about their jobs because if you actually care, you're going to do a better job.”