Fly, fight, win with avionics technicians

  • Published
  • By Airman Sadie Colbert
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force has a variety of aircraft in its arsenal and each one, including the B-1 bomber, contains its own set of avionics systems and technicians to make the mission possible.

There are two levels of maintenance on Ellsworth: the organizational level; consisting of offensive avionics, defensive avionics, and instrument and flight control technicians, and the intermediate level; made up of avionics flight technicians which provide in-depth, next-level repairs to B-1 bombers that are more intricate and cannot be conducted by organizational level personnel.

Staff Sgt. Lary Eyre, 28th Maintenance Squadron avionics team leader, comments avionics systems are essential for operating the bomber and keeping it serviceable for future use.

"The B-1 has a very complicated electronic warfare package," Eyre said. "With radars and threat avoidance systems to enable its safety, there are a lot of [pieces] you need to have knowledge on to understand how to correct the problem."

By using uploaded maintenance and operational software, the flight is responsible for repairing, removing, installing and checking avionics systems and line-replaceable units, components that can be removed and replaced from an aircraft or system, while performing and supervising the alignment, calibration and bore sight of the systems.

Some of the new Airmen, like Airman 1st Class Sloan Walls, 28th MXS avionics technician apprentice, can feel overwhelmed with pressure when they see the "mammoth-sized" technology they have to work on.

"Seeing [the computers] at first is a little intimidating," Walls explained, "but once you get more proficient, it gets easier and easier because you are used to working with everything."

While time and repetition can help an Airman be efficient, it doesn't hurt to have a good work environment so operations run smoothly.

"I enjoy working with the people here," Walls said, smiling. "It really helps to have someone who is more experienced when something goes wrong and you don't know how to fix it yet."

Walls added even with enjoyable team members the job is always taken seriously, and depending on the workload, personnel can be found meticulously working hard all the time, including when the shop receives mission critical assets to work on.

"Sometimes the job can get stressful," Eyre said. "The mission might need something to be done in 20 minutes when it normally takes four hours to complete. [Personnel] look to you to be proficient in knowing what you have to do so time isn't wasted."

To keep up with the workload of receiving around 50-60 LRUs containing circuit cards a month, the shop runs 24/7. The personnel even work with other bases to assist each other.

"Between all three operating bases for the B-1, our supply lines for avionics parts are very intertwined with each other," Eyre mentioned. "If one base doesn't have the manning or expertise of an area in avionics another shop will. We support them in areas where they may lack a little bit, and they support us in areas we may lack in a little bit."

Eyre explains, without the 28th MXS avionics technicians, systems on the B-1 bomber could not be fixed, and would not be flyable or used for low-altitude attacks and reconnaissance missions.

"I'm proud to work on the B-1," Eyre said. "It makes me feel good that we're working on the systems that protect the B-1 and allow it to do its mission, which allows it to protect our brothers in arms."