WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Major operations and events require adequate management of supplies and goods. For the 445th Airlift Wing, this mission is completed by 445th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s maintenance support liaison office or MSL.
Tech. Sgt. Ethan Bolton, MSL’s material management supervisor, ensures plane parts are in stock and ready for use at a moment’s notice.
“We are the focal point for all logistics operations supporting the 445th maintenance mission,” said Bolton. “We are responsible for the issue, order and tracking of parts needed for the two maintenance squadrons, back shops and air ground equipment.”
Each C-17 Globemaster III aircraft must undergo routine maintenance for every hour it flies. As Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Porta, 445th Maintenance Group superintendent, explains, the planes can’t fly without their parts and each part and piece of the large four engine jet has to first arrive on base for maintainers to use it.
“Those of us in maintenance could not perform our job and we could not get the air planes in the air without MSL,” Porta said.
The health of the 445th Airlift Wing’s nine C-17s relies on the logistics specialists in MSL who coordinate between the logistics center at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois and Boeing, the aircraft’s manufacture.
The process begins when a maintainer requests a needed part. A material management Airman researches the part to ensure it works on the plane it’s being ordered for and that the part is correct for the aircraft model and year. Then they track the part until it is turned over to the maintainer. With approximately $8 million worth of parts and equipment flowing through the MSL office each month, efficiency is paramount.
“It’s up to us to find the fastest and most efficient way possible to get the parts to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for our maintainers to fix what they need and continue their mission,” said Bolton.
Material management Airmen help the maintainers continue their mission even off base. When a jet breaks down anywhere in the world, the maintainer calls MSL and they jump into action to requisition the part and have it sent to crew chief as quickly as possible. This allows the 445th to support 24-hour worldwide contingency missions.
“Anytime maintenance is here, MSL has to be here because we have to have them at our fingertips to order all the LRUs (line replaceable units) that we need to fix a jet,” said Porta.
With the relationships and contacts the MSL shop builds, they are able to tell maintainers the availability of certain parts, where in the world a part is, and when it will arrive or become available. From this crucial and critical information, maintainers can schedule maintenance for a jet and advise how long it will be out of operation, making the connection between MSL and maintenance just as important.
As Chief Porta acknowledges, a maintainer has no greater bond. “Between maintenance and MSL, that’s probably the closest relationship maintenance has with anybody. There’s absolutely no way we could perform our mission without them performing theirs first.”