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Contract Field Team expedites maintenance

Brandon Simmons (left), 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contract field team aircraft mechanic, and Derrick Brown, 28th AMXS contract field team engine mechanic, work on B-1 fuel cooling scoops during a home station maintenance check at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 22, 2013. After the fuel cooling scoops are removed, the bushings at the hinge points are replaced due to excessive wear since the last inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer/Released)

Brandon Simmons (left), 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contract field team aircraft mechanic, and Derrick Brown, 28th AMXS contract field team engine mechanic, work on B-1 fuel cooling scoops during a home station maintenance check at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 22, 2013. After the fuel cooling scoops are removed, the bushings at the hinge points are replaced due to excessive wear since the last inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer/Released)

Brandon Simmons, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contract field team aircraft mechanic, removes an access panel on a B-1 during a home station maintenance check at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 22, 2013. This B-1 recently returned from Southwest Asia and needed to be inspected for cracks per established maintenance guidelines as part of preparing the aircraft for future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer/Released)

Brandon Simmons, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron contract field team aircraft mechanic, removes an access panel on a B-1 during a home station maintenance check at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Jan. 22, 2013. This B-1 recently returned from Southwest Asia and needed to be inspected for cracks per established maintenance guidelines as part of preparing the aircraft for future operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- A cadre of 33 former U.S. Air Force aircraft maintainers - now serving as Department of Defense contracted civilians - work alongside Ellsworth Airmen to create a unique shop that represents various career fields and years of experience geared toward expediting maintenance.

The group - official named the Civilian Field Team - started out primarily as a resource to assist under-manned maintenance shops - but their role on the flightline soon changed.

"We evolved and started fixing broken planes and bringing the FMC (fully mission capable) rate up," said John Anderson, 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron CFT production supervisor.

The 28th AMXS is the largest squadron in the 28th Bomb Wing, comprised of more than 700 Airmen who are authorized to support 28 combat-coded B-1 bombers. With Airmen in and out due to high deployment rates, the CFT shop ensures that routine inspections are performed on time.

Master Sgt. Jason Justice, 28th AMXS production superintendent, said the CFT shop brings a refreshing depth of experience to the flightline that helps the Airmen complete work in a timely manner, a critical issue, during deployments.

CFT contractors bring a great deal of experience to the flightline. For example, Anderson started in the AF as a crew chief in 1981 and eventually became both the 28th AMXS and 28th Maintenance Group Quality Assurance chief.

Anthony Brown, 28th AMXS CFT hydraulics systems technician said it was an easy transition.

"I knew the job," said Brown. "I've been on this airframe for 11 years."

In addition to hydraulics, civilians working in the shop also have backgrounds in sheet metal, offensive avionics, environmental electronics and several other mechanical fields. Former crew chiefs lend their expertise to aid in the shop's success as well.

Although maintaining the B-1 is a challenging job, members of the shop not only keep Ellsworth's B-1 fleet healthy, but teach young Airmen new tasks. The knowledge they add to Airmen's toolbox helps them troubleshoot and fix problems at a quicker pace.

"We're able to share our experience to help them complete aircraft maintenance and train other Air Force members," said Anderson.

With so many aircraft to maintain, the CFT shop's pool of knowledge creates an environment that allows vital maintenance to be performed in a fraction of the time.

"There's no down time," said Brown. "You don't have to wait on one specific career field to accomplish a task. They may be saturated with other work, whereas we have a pool of people who can accomplish the task from start to finish."

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