Staff Sgt. Dustin Lough, 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit Communications and Navigations Avionics journeyman, inspects the Very High Frequency antenna on an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter at RAF Lakenheath, England, Mar. 1, 2010. The VHF antenna helps aircraft communicate with other aircraft and personnel on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Connor Estes)
Staff Sgt. Barry Wiles, 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 493rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit Avionics technician, installs a heads-up display data processor on an F-15C Strike Eagle jet at RAF Lakenheath, England, Feb. 25, 2010. The data processor displays heading, attitude, air speed and other pertinent information to the pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Connor Estes)
Airman 1st Class Thomas Johns, 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit Instruments and Flight Controls Avionics journeyman, troubleshoots an engine indicating system on a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter at RAF Lakenheath, England, Mar. 1, 2010. The engine indicating system controls the readings of different engine pressures such as torque, fuel and temperature. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Connor Estes)
by Staff Sgt. Connor Estes
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/8/2010 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Airmen from the 748th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's 493rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit and 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit, avionics sections, play an important role in the Liberty Wing mission by ensuring aircraft are fully functional and safe to fly.
The maintenance performed by avionics Airmen can mean the difference between a successful flight and a grounded aircraft.
"If the avionics instruments don't work, the aircraft doesn't fly," said Staff Sgt. Steven Conine, 748th AMXS, 56th HMU instruments and flight control systems craftsman. "We ensure the radar, navigation and missile control systems are all functioning properly."
The 56th HMU avionics section maintains five HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and has 10 personnel assigned to the airframe. This section encompasses two career fields: guidance and control and communication and navigation. When anything electronic has a fault, they have to fix it.
"We are the ones who listen to the pilots about a problem they had during flight and work it from there, hand-in-hand with all the air crew, so that the aircrew can have an effective, successful mission," said Sergeant Conine.
The primary mission for the 56th HMU is search and rescue, so when they're called to action everything has to work to perfection.
"There is no room for anything to fail," said Sergeant Conine. "If we fail, people die. We have to do whatever it takes to ensure the takeoff and rescue are successful, safe and by the books."
Even though Airmen of the 56th HMU Avionics section have technical career fields, they have to be flexible and integrate wherever help is needed.
"We don't only troubleshoot computer systems, software and hardware problems," said Sergeant Conine. "We can step in and be a crew chief if needed. Our work section can be cross utilized with other sections in case the unit is undermanned."
The Airmen maintain motivation in their jobs by adopting the motto of the combat search and rescue Airmen with whom they work.
"These things we do ... that others may live," said Staff Sgt. James Kenney, 748th AMXS communications and navigations technician. "This is what keeps us dedicated to the mission and why it's important to keep the aircraft flying."
The 493rd AMU essentially carries out the same duties as the 56th HMU but on jets instead of helicopters. The 493rd AMU maintains 30 F-15C Eagle jets with 85 Airmen who specialize in areas ranging from radar warning receivers to navigation.
"We maintain aircraft systems that are vital to both pilot safety and mission completion," said Master Sgt. David Szybicki, 748th AMXS, 493rd AMU Avionics Flight chief. "Without us, the jets don't fly."
3/16/2010 3:28:54 PM ET These things WE DO....that others may live