News | July 8, 2016

PROSUPER: "Best Air Force class I've taken"

By 940 ARW Public Affairs 940 ARW Public Affairs

Twenty-eight reserve maintainers were certified as production superintendents on June 25, 2016 at Beale Air Force Base, California.

In order to prepare for the air refueling mission, which the 940th returned to earlier this year, reservists throughout the wing have been attending training like this course.

The wing is resuming a role it performed from three Sacramento-area bases from 1977 to 2008. Between that time and now, the wing operated the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and other command and control missions.  The unit is growing to about 1,200 reservists, an increase of 300, due to the change.

With the growth in personnel, additional supervisors are required to help manage operations on the flight line.

“Prosupers are the main orchestrators in charge of the juggling act of managing the flight line,” said Chief Master Sgt. Daniel McCarthy, 940th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight chief.

Production Superintendents are responsible for maintaining ready aircraft and ensuring all maintenance requirements and operational commitments are met.  They oversee everything from scheduling personnel and establishing job priorities to responding to emergencies and weather conditions.

“They can be responsible for 20-30 Airmen per shift,” said McCarthy, “not to include those working in back shops.”

NCOs and civilians are handpicked from seasoned aircraft maintainers to attend this hands-on certification course.

“You can only get so much from a computer-based course,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jose Gonzalez, 423rd Mobility Training Squadron instructor. “This six-day course gives students hands-on practice with real world scenarios.”

After four days of classroom instruction, students put their decision-making skills to the test using the aircraft maintenance production software (AMPS), which uses a projector to display the virtual flight line at the front of the class.  Students can see where the airplanes were parked, fuel trucks driving by and can hear realistic sounds of engines starting and taking off.

They used checklists to launch aircraft, communicated using two-way radios, and performed shift turnovers while instructors played various roles in the scenario.

"Some of the things we look for are teamwork, communication, critical thinking and the decision making process," said Gonzalez. 

If they get tunnel vision while they’re busy, he might add a discrepancy to challenge a student.

“Having to make snap decisions in a practical environment with the added level of stress is hard to simulate in training,” said McCarthy.

Fifteen of the 28 students are assigned to Beale, many of whom are traditional reservists and do not work at their military specialty full-time.

“We get to see and work through scenarios that could otherwise take months or years to be exposed to.” said McCarthy “This course gives us a huge edge.  It's the best Air Force class I've ever taken.”