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380AEW Article

Putting the ‘AFE’ in safe

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates – Aircraft Flight Equipment Airmen have their work cut out for them with the array of missions at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Two of the five AFE sections works around-the-clock operations to ensure the safety of KC-10 Extenders and E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircrews are met.

The technicians are responsible for inspecting and maintaining lifesaving equipment to include oxygen masks, survival masks, life preservers, anti-exposure suits, radios and recovery kits.

“It feels great knowing that our efforts towards maintaining all our equipment and training aircrew saves lives,” said Senior Airman Renato Avalos, 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron KC-10 AFE technician. “It’s especially humbling and a privilege to hear some crews say that they had to use our equipment and would not be here without it.”

Avalos said that during a mission a KC-10 lost cabin pressurization and the aircrew would have suffered from hypoxia and potentially crashed if it hadn’t been for the oxygen masks on board. They were able to don the masks and make it home safely.

The equipment rarely needs to be used but it stands ready for aircrews during an in-flight emergency or provide downed aircrew with supplies to survive and contact pararescue units.

“The components in the survival kits provide downed aircrew members everything they need to stay alive long enough to be rescued, and the accuracy of the survival radios is crucial to the recovery of the downed aircrew,” said Tech. Sgt. Walter Bolles, 380th EOSS E-3 AFE technician. “When everything else fails, AFE will be the last to let them down.”