AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
Going the extra step to ensure things are done the right way is what the Air Force is about. This precaution is pertinent to Airmen’s safety and the Air Force’s mission.
The 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Group Quality Assurance team is responsible for serving as the primary technical advisory agency to the Maintenance Group commander. This group of Airmen act as a force of safety for anything having to do with the flight line.
“QA’s job is to provide oversight of the maintenance performed within the Maintenance Group by performing evaluations using an established monthly plan,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Fine, 380th EMXG Aerospace Ground Equipment inspector. “These evaluations give leadership a snapshot of compliance within the MXG to maximize mission success. QA also provides technical assistance, when needed, to determine the correct course of action to resolve maintenance problems.”
This group of Airmen are assigned to major components within the Maintenance Group such as the aircraft themselves and major back shops. They oversee everything from ensuring fire hydrants are being inspected every month to aircraft tires being changed out properly.
“Usually busy Aircraft Maintenance Units means busy QA inspectors,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Rosa, 380th EMXG RQ-4 Global Hawk and U-2 Dragon Lady QA inspector. “I think in order to maximize your effectiveness in QA you need to be outgoing, very detail oriented, and professional. What I think is probably the most important trait is to have the ability to speak clearly and train Airmen.”
A clear and enlightening persona isn’t the only thing to have what it takes to be a QA inspector. Bringing past experiences from their original maintenance trade is sometimes crucial to the QA shop, on top of staying knowledgeable on all of the updated maintenance-related Air Force Instructions.
“I have been in the AGE field for more than 20 years of my 39 years total military service,” Fine said. “I currently hold a 9-skill level in that particular Air Force Specialty Code. I have, however, been out of that career field for about four years so my challenge has been to reacquaint myself to Technical Orders and AFI’s of any changes that may have recently occurred. This is also the first time I have been a QA inspector so I have had to learn the internal processes within QA including programs specific to the QA field.”
With all of their knowledge and experience, the QA team finds it hard at times to not dive in and go back to their maintainer ways.
“The hardest part of this job is going out to the flight line and while inspecting Airmen doing maintenance, not jumping in and performing the maintenance task along with them,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Shiflett, 380th EMXG KC-10 Extender QA inspector. “I love getting my hands dirty.”
Though they would love to get back to the sometimes-gritty work on the flight line, these Airmen know the significance of their role as QA inspectors, and educate anyone they encounter.
“Our job is to help and train just as much as it is to police and inspect the line and its maintainers,” Rosa said.
With the maintenance field being much more than just turning wrenches on aircraft for hours on end, the QA shop realizes their important role in keeping this well-oiled machine going.
“QA has a significant impact here at ADAB,” Rosa said. “We play a crucial role in maintaining safety compliance, tech data compliance, acquiring engineer assistance, incident prevention and reporting. There is a lot of parts to the maintenance world [and] we are just another cog in that large wheel.