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The devil never takes a break: part 2.

We were transitioning to new FA-18E aircraft and were preparing for a crucial inspection called Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency Inspection (CWTPI). We had been preparing for this inspection by going to the Strike Fighter Weapons School Pacific (SFWSP) and treating every day as if it were the actual inspection day.

We were in our hangar bay doing maintenance on one of four jets that had been accepted. Maintenance control called for a release and control (R&C) check for aircraft 300. As the collateral duty inspector (CDI), I gathered my team and briefed the task. My main concern was the support equipment required to complete the inspection. To an experienced person, the task was not very difficult, but to us it seemed like a lot because we had only done a handful of R&C checks on the Super Hornet. I decided to set a slow tempo for my team, taking it one step at a time. My team was instructed to check out the gear and proceed to the jet after accounting for all of the tools.

It was my first time not under instruction inspecting and signing off a basic R&C check on a Super Hornet --I was nervous. However, I wasn't worried, because I knew the checklist would be used step-by-step.

We started the R&C and everything was going smoothly. We had the required gear on every weapon station except station six. As we proceeded, we encountered some difficulties with certain stations failing the checks. The squadron was about to have an all-hands quarters, so we found ourselves beginning to rush. After an hour and a half of troubleshooting, I got the thumbs up from the cockpit that all stations checked good, so I ordered for the aircraft to be shut down.

Fast forward a few days to the intended first flight of this aircraft. The Power Plant shop was turning the jet in order to transfer fuel out of a centerline fuel tank now installed on station six. A check of station six revealed that the station was not electrically connected. How did this happen?

The last person to install something on station six was my work-center supervisor. The last person to perform an R&C check was me. Yet, we both signed off on our maintenance actions that station six was "good to go." Worse yet, I even signed a separate maintenance action form (MAF) specifying that station six had been checked and was good.

After all stations (except six) checked good on the aircraft, I forgot to continue and do the additional check on station six. Our recent training at SFWSP had involved checking every station at once, and then shutting down the jet. The big difference was that over there, every station had gear installed. During our basic R&C check at our squadron, station six didn't have a test set installed. This meant that I was supposed to complete the step of checking station six with the test set after the other stations had checked good. This step slipped my mind. I lost my CDI Team Leader qualifications for R&C, and I was awarded Extra Military Instruction (EMI) for 14 days. Adding insult to injury, I also wasn't allowed to participate in CWTPI after weeks of training with my team.

AOJ(AIV) Jones is with FFA-151.

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Author:Jones, Leonla
Date:Jun 22, 2014
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