Avionics Airmen: Troubleshooting mission success

Senior Airman Kevin Burns and Staff Sgt. Eric Zimmerman, 56th Component Maintenance Squadron Avionics Flight team leaders, work on removing a communication switch from an audio panel at the avionics flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell)

Senior Airman Kevin Burns and Staff Sgt. Eric Zimmerman, 56th Component Maintenance Squadron Avionics Flight team leaders, work on removing a communication switch from an audio panel at the avionics flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell)

The audio one panel allows the pilot to communicate between with other aircraft and the control tower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell)

The audio one panel allows the pilot to communicate between with other aircraft and the control tower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Have you ever wondered what's inside an F-16 that makes everything function and who was responsible for fixing those parts when something went wrong?

The answer to that question is the Airmen of the 56th Component Maintenance Squadron Avionics Flight. They are responsible for analyzing various onboard equipment and identifying system malfunctions for maintenance and repair.

"Without us the Air Force would spend a lot of money shipping aircraft parts between depot-level maintenance and flightline maintenance," said Tech. Sgt. John Brackenbury, 56th CMS Avionics Flight production superintendent. "We are able to screen those parts to find out if they are causing the failures on the jet and if they truly need to go in for a major overhaul or complete rebuild."

When an aircraft system isn't working correctly, avionics Airmen troubleshoot the aircraft down to an electronic component, called a line replaceable unit. When they inspect the different fault codes and suspect an LRU to be bad, it is removed and sent to the avionics back shop for more in-depth troubleshooting.

They receive units from supply management Airmen working at the aircraft maintenance units, some come directly from supply management and others from individual shops such as armament. The flight can receive as few as one-to-two units a day or as many as 15.

When equipment can't be fixed in-house, it is sent out for repair.

The flight is in the process of standing up a program that will eliminate having to send parts out for repair, saving the Air Force time and money.

"The Air Force repair enhancement program we are standing up will repair otherwise unserviceable equipment and put it back in service," said Master Sgt. Andrew Wasson, 56th CMS Avionics Flight chief. "We have been outsourcing repairs to contractors in the past, but now we are looking at expanding our capabilities with an actual in-house repair center."

An interest in aircraft electronics and electrical systems is needed for working in the avionics career field. Airmen must also possess exacting attention-to-detail to ensure the mission is successful.

"To be successful in this job, you need a lot of drive and definitely a lot of passion for your job," Brackenbury said.