Maintenance Operation Center: Information flow readies aircraft
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Pacific region looks to Yokota Air Base and the 374 Airlift Wing as the hub of rapid mobility and combat support. This role is accomplished by a dedicated support team of Airmen, Department of Defense civilian employees and their Japanese counterparts, whose work readies Yokota's fleet of C-130 Hercules.
One of those teams works at the 374th Maintenance Group maintenance operations center. The MOC is as large as an American-style living room and contains a 24-hour rotation of nine Airmen who plan, schedule and manage actions here for C-130H Hercules, UH-1N Hueys and C-12J Hurons.
"We coordinate flight plans, maintenance, aircraft toes, refuels and engine runs," said Tech. Sgt. Sean Clark, 374th MXG senior weapons systems controller. "Basically, we track the entire sequence of events behind flight schedules, starting with maintenance and leading all the way to the flight taking off."
The MOC, as the maintenance dispatch and communication focal point for flightline activity, helps organize and relay information to and from different support teams.
"We are the eyes and ears for everything taking place on the flightline," said Master Sgt. Peter Kennedy, MOC superintendent. "We are the communication or focal point between the groups and squadron that support the aircraft."
Documenting maintenance information, coordinating flightline actions and listening to ongoing flightline communication can be quite the juggle. Clark said there are moments when his left ear is to a phone, his right ear is listening to the radio and his eyes are locked onto the computer screen as he updates or reads information. It is this tracking that leads to successful flight operations and the continuation of the Yokota mission.
"The information we funnel and share between squadrons and shops allow all of them to come together and get the mission done in a timely manner," Kennedy said.
There is not a day that goes by where the MOC is left empty. Every day, essential information is annotated and kept on record. Much of the information shared during C-130 operations is also loaded into tracking systems to measure future maintenance needs to be later used for maintenance analysis.
"It is our job to know the needs of the aircraft and to get answers," said Clark. "For instance, if an aircraft is scheduled for a flight tomorrow, but it is also scheduled for maintenance, it is my job to notify the right people and schedule a different aircraft for the flight."
Large, dedicated support teams are required to maintain and operate a fleet of aircraft and the MOC ensures these teams flow together seamlessly. The ability of maintenance shops to work together allows Yokota to fill its role in the Pacific.