Story by A1C Alan Ricker on 04/02/2019MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. Air Education and Training Command's 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 8 is scheduled to begin its first KC-46A Pegasus classes this year.
"Right now we have the first classes scheduled to teach the host, McConnell's 22nd Maintenance Group, starting in April," said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew McCord, 373rd TRS Detachment 8 superintendent.
The detachment will continue to train Airmen on KC-135 Stratotanker procedures while they begin to introduce KC-46A Pegasus curriculum later this year.
"We are taking the 5-levels and 7-levels who are already qualified to work on an aircraft and have prior KC-135 Stratotanker experience and transition them to the KC-46," said Tech. Sgt. Andres Gonzalez, 373rd TRS Det. 8 communication/navigation instructor. "We will teach them how to complete operational checks and familiarize them with the new systems on the aircraft."
Currently, in addition to the upcoming KC-46 training, the detachment provides advanced maintenance training for the KC-135 community at McConnell and other KC-135 units worldwide including Air National Guard and Reserve units.
"Teams are sent to train other KC-135 units if requested," said McCord. "Recently we've had instructors return from Altus and MacDill Air Force Base."
While the detachment continues to teach KC-135 content, McCord explain that the detachment will also train and familiarize the host unit and other units in the future including Pease Air National Guard Base, Tinker, Seymour Johnson, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and international allies with KC-46 maintenance operations and procedures.
"We are the first field training detachment being stood up and are responsible for training the KC-46 enterprise," said McCord.
Along with conversion training and having some instructors that are dual qualified for the KC-135 and KC-46, the detachment will be tasked to train pipeline Airmen on specific KC-46 duties. The technical school is slated to begin classes for approximately 12 to 18 crew chiefs sometime between July and September of this year. The detachment is also currently working on courseware reviews for the curriculum being developed by Boeing.
"I've been focusing on making sure that I study the material, get accustomed to it and be prepared to teach it," said Gonzalez. "It's my role right now to edit the curriculum and make sure everything is good to go, tailoring it to my Air Force specialty."
Approximately 180 pipeline students are forecasted for fiscal year 2020 at this time, upon successful completion each student will receive credits towards their Community College of the Air Force degree.
"Boeing is developing courseware with 3D simulation," said McCord. "The software is pretty amazing and allows the students to open and close doors, remove panels and go through operational check procedures all while sitting at their desk. This allows for a better familiarization with the task prior to going to the aircraft or trainer to perform the actual task and while it doesn't eliminate, it significantly reduces the need for an actual aircraft".
Hands-on experience will also be provided with the use of several trainers. Flight deck/avionics, landing gear, flight control, fuel system, aerial refueling and engine/auxiliary power unit trainers will be available for the Airmen. There will also be an advanced wiring and electrical repair lab.
McCord said the 373rd TRS, along with the host's Maintenance Qualification Training Program Instructors, are leading the way in the review of the contracted curriculum for AETC and Air Mobility Command respectively. The 373rd TRS has also been involved with the development of the augmented hardware trainers, and will also be helping Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Travis in the future when they begin setting up their field training detachments for KC-46 training. These three detachments will be responsible for training the maintainers on the Air Force's newest airframe.
"I am very grateful to be here because I've been wanting to be an instructor since I was an airman first class," said Gonzalez. "I have been involved with the KC-46 since 2015 on the technical order certification and verification team, so I've been on the aircraft for four years now. Now being a part of the curriculum side, I'm proud to have a part in building the curriculum that is going to be used for generations after I'm done.
"I'm an open book," Gonzalez continued. "I don't withhold any information. I give them everything, that way they can use it and be the best maintainer they can be."