Sunday, May 5, 2013

Preflight Inspection

I am ready to go!  Since I spent my last 20 years on Air Force flightlines, I will have to explain it all in military jargon.

I spent the week finishing work on my farm equipment to make sure it is ready to go.  As the week went along, I couldn't help but think about how working on farm equipment is very similar to working on fighter jets in the Air Force.  Here are examples of the similarities with the last aircraft that I supported, the F-22A.

First and foremost, there are the instructions.  For the F-22, there is a Technical Order called the 1F-22A-1 Flight Manual, or the "Dash One".  The Dash One explains to the pilot how all the systems on the aircraft operate and what to do if one of the systems fails or has a problem.  It is similar in many ways to the operators manuals for my tractor and air seeder.

Maintenance requirements and intervals for the F-22 are in Technical Order 1F-22A-6, or the "Dash Six".  The Dash Six outlines preventative maintenance activities based upon the amount of hours the jet flies and based upon calendar timelines.  For example, the weeble fluid in the wobble shaft might need checked every 5 hours and replaced every 150 hours, while the flux capacitor might need overhauled every 18 months.  Again, the operators manuals for my farm equipment do the same thing, laying out maintenance requirements based on operating hours as well as annual inspections.

The most common inspections for military jets are based upon flights, and a single flight is called a "sortie" in military aviation.  The F-22 inspections include the Preflight (prior to the first sortie of the day), the Thru-Flight (performed between sorties flown during the same day), the Post-Flight (after all sorties are complete at the end of the day), and the Packaged Maintenance Plan (in-depth maintenance performed every 300 hours, roughly once per year).  This week I completed something similar to a preflight inspection on my equipment.  I've looked over all the components to check for leaks, cracks, tightness, and wear, I've replaced or repaired everything needing fixed, and now it's ready to go.

Finally, the Air Force tracks the operational status of aircraft through "MC" codes.  Mission Capable ("MC") means a jet is ready and capable of performing the mission it was designed to complete.  Here are the major MC codes that the Air Force uses to track status:
  • MC:  Mission Capable.  The jet is ready to perform its designed mission.
  • NMC:  Non-Mission Capable.  The jet is broke and not ready to fly a mission.
  • NMCM:  Non-Mission Capable due to Maintenance.  A component needs fixed or replaced.
  • NMCS:  Non-Mission Capable due to Supply.  Parts are required and not yet available.

Preflight Inspection Complete
This week, my farm equipment was mostly NMCM, needing maintenance to be performed.  Among other things, I needed to change oil, re-wire a battery cable, replace a hydraulic seal, weld a crack in a bracket, and clean things up!  And for about a day, the air seeder was NMCS while I waited for the local parts dealer to get some bearings that needed to be replaced in the packer wheels.  Now everything is fixed and ready and my equipment is MC.

MC.  It's time to roll baby, I'm ready for my sorties to seed wheat!