AFE: The last to let you down

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

In the world of combat aviation, there is no room for error. Everyone in a long line of maintainers, engineers, planners and flight crew must execute their piece of the mission flawlessly in order to make sure the mission is successful. With everything handled perfectly, however, emergencies can still happen and the crew can be in a life-or-death situation: That’s where the Airmen from aircrew flight equipment come in.


“Without our equipment working when it is needed then the aircrew have no lifesaving equipment,” said Tech. Sgt. Colin, 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron E-3 Sentry AFE NCO in charge.


The oxygen systems and all of the auxiliary life-saving equipment on the aircraft must be ready to function at any time, because when it is needed, it’s too late to worry about whether the equipment has been replaced or is functioning correctly. For this reason, the inspection process is one of the most important parts of the AFE mission.


“If our inspections are not completed with the attention to detail they require when the aircrew actually needs our equipment it might fail,” said Senior Airman Tabitha, 380th EOSS KC-10 Extender AFE. “In our job there is no room for mistakes.”


Although the mission here consists of several airframes working together, the AFE Airmen from each aircraft mesh efficiently to get the job done, sharing facilities and equipment and reducing the footprint needed to accomplish this vital mission.


“Multi airframes share facilities and the integration is pretty seamless,” Colin said. “As heavy aircraft pretty much share the same equipment except for a few changes and fighter airframes also share like equipment so the integration is rather quick and easy.”


When there is an in-flight emergency thousands of feet above hostile territory, every contingency must be planned and prepared for. In those critical moments, the Airmen in AFE are an aircrew’s life preserver cast out to bring them home.


“Our motto is ‘AFE...the last to let you down’, because when our equipment is most needed is when everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and the aircrew is now in a life or death situation,” Colin said.



(Last names have been removed for security reasons.)