Maintaining the maintainers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janelle Patiño
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wings Public Affairs
Maintainers fix and keep aircraft flying; we all know what they do. But, how are our maintainers able to solve complex technical problems and keep our more than 50 year old tanker fleet in the air?

Ask any maintainer and they will probably tell you the Maintenance Qualification Training Program is responsible. Maintainers excel at what they do because of the MQTP that trains them how to maintain KC-135 Stratotankers.

"Our mission is to take new Airmen from tech school and teach them maintenance on our aircraft specifically," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Pope, 92nd Maintenance Operations Flight military quality training program instructor. "We train them to enhance their skills and be the best they can be."

MQTP is a course that consists of two phases; each phase breaks down the fundamentals of working on the aircraft.

"Phase one is a month long while phase two depends on the Airman's career field," Pope said. "The first phase covers such things as maintenance, towing procedures and safety while phase two is a more advanced setting and concentrates on a specific career field."

The course lasts for approximately four months where the instructors train maintainers in six core areas such as jet engine mechanics, crew chief duty, electrical and environmental systems, communication navigation, hydraulics and guidance and controls.

"We have a maximum of four students per class for both phases," he said. "We usually get two or more new Airmen, in an average rate, every six months."

All Airmen go through classroom discussions and hands-on training on possible tasks they might encounter. Classroom discussions consist of step-by-step procedures, and Airmen are tested on their knowledge at the end of each lesson.

"Airmen who struggle are given one-on-one instruction to make sure they understand the material," Pope said. "We make sure we produce effective Airmen who are ready to go out and fix planes."

Airman 1st Class Yang Xiang, a phase two student, thinks MQTP is a program where he can learn more about his job.

"I love my job, because they teach us about it more in depth," he said. "It's a great combination of learning in a classroom environment and being able to go out and actually demonstrate it."

Classes are from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are currently eight MQTP instructors who teach and prepare Airmen to do their job correctly.

"I like being an instructor because it allows me to teach and share what I know about my job," Pope said. "It's fulfilling to be able to teach and share my knowledge to our new Airmen."