Signing off a mistake.
Working as an E-6B CDI always comes with high op tempo. Reduced manning levels during the Christmas leave period and an unusually highphase maintenance workload had me working overtime. Running two shifts instead of the normal three had me on night shift working until all downing discrepancies were corrected, easily extending my shift an additional two or three hours per night. This pace had been in effect for over a week. Looking back, I realize that fatigue had already set in.
I had begun installing a slide valve for the aerial refueling system with a junior third class who was new to the shop and eager to learn. I was soon interrupted, however, when I was called to the flight line to troubleshoot a discrepancy on a different alert aircraft. The acronym describing our platform is TACAMO: Take Charge and Move Out. That means our alert aircraft are ready to go, around the clock, every day of the year.
I hurried to the flight line after leaving instructions to the junior mech on how to continue with the next few steps on the slide valve. An hour later, I finished the troubleshooting and returned to follow up on the slide valve assembly. To my surprise, the valve was not only assembled but attached to the fuel line. After referencing the pubs for Quality Assurance (QA) requirements, I went about the work of inspecting the completed job and congratulated the young mech on his efforts. With no further fanfare, a leak check was performed, the work order was signed off and the holidays enjoyed.
A couple of months into the new year, during a routine preflight inspection, an aircrewman found what looked like a mesh screen near the flight engineer's station on the flight deck. I was soon shocked to find out that the mesh screen was supposed to be inside the fuel line that attaches to the slide valve, to prevent debris from contaminating the fuel system during in flight refueling. And I had signed it off!
QA was immediately notified and I was called in to relay what happened. Thinking back over the craziness of that Christmas maintenance period, I couldn't say for sure if that screen was installed or not, and it appeared it was not. Looking back over the maintenance pub and thinking through the steps I inspected on the job, I verified that all QA steps were performed. However, the mesh screen installation was not a QA procedure.
We had to disconnect all the fuel lines from the slide valve, reinstall the mesh screen and check the screens on the remaining lines. In total, we lost about 120 man hours. I could try to place the blame elsewhere, but I know as a Collateral Duty Inspector it was my responsibility to verify that the work was done correctly. I submitted a Technical Publication Deficiency Report to add the mesh screen installation as a QA step. I'm glad that my mistake was found and hope that others can learn from my experience.
AD2 (AW) Fabian Briseno work in the Powerplants shop at VQ-4.