Functional test crews work together to become silver safe site

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
Safety is a top priority in every unit at Robins, but in the functional test flight area, safety is the essence of the job.

After planes undergo thousands of man hours being dismantled, repaired and reassembled, the job of functional test crews is to make sure the aircraft can takeoff and return safely.

Although they belong to three separate squadrons, the functional test crews for the C-17, C-5 and C-130 decided to work together to tackle the Commander's Safe Site challenge. Their efforts were recognized recently when they were collectively awarded Silver Star Site status in the challenge.

They are now working toward trying to win Gold, which would mean they would meet the requirement as a Star Site. Star Site is the highest safety recognition given by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to participants in the Voluntary Protection Program.

"The biggest thing is that although we have different aircraft, we all have the same issues," said Chris Edwards, who represents the C-130 Functional Test flight on the VPP team.

Tony Day, a functional test mechanic in the C-17 area, also works on the team. He said the joint effort is beneficial because it allows the three areas to tap into the vast experience of those in the many other areas.

"With more people involved and more people thinking, the more things people learn and come up with," he said. "You've got multiple people with multiple ideas, and a plethora of resources."

Dean Soderberg, deputy director of the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, which includes the C-130 functional test flight, said management is committed to the VPP safety process.

"This environment is one of the most dangerous environments in aircraft maintenance," he said. "Mistakes out here can kill or seriously injure an employee. All personnel out here have to be mindful of the hazards of each of the different weapons systems."

Scott Ball, a C-5 functional test mechanic, represents his area on the team. He said the group will continue to work together, even if it gets gold, to improve safety in the three flights.

The flights do most of their work outdoors, on the flightline, but they share a single building. "It works great with us teaming together and bringing our building together as one," he said.