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Even C-130’s need a little time for self-care

Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 302nd Maintenance Group examine a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an isochronal inspection at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, July 8, 2019.

Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 302nd Maintenance Group examine a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an isochronal inspection at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, July 8, 2019. Isochronal inspections are done on each aircraft at the 302nd Airlift Wing every 540 days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Frank Casciotta)

Staff Sgt. George Brennan, a 302nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, replaces components on a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an isochronal inspection at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, July 8, 2019.

Staff Sgt. George Brennan, a 302nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, replaces components on a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an isochronal inspection at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, July 8, 2019. Isochronal inspections are done on each aircraft at the 302nd Airlift Wing every 540 days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Frank Casciotta)

Staff Sgt. George Brennan, a 302nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, examines a propulsion engine on a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an isochronal inspection at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, July 8, 2019.

Staff Sgt. George Brennan, a 302nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, examines a propulsion engine on a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an isochronal inspection at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, July 8, 2019. Isochronal inspections are done on each aircraft at the 302nd Airlift Wing every 540 days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Frank Casciotta)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Just as people need a little time for self-care, the C-130 Hercules aircraft here take a break from flying operations for some preventative maintenance every 540 days through an isochronal inspection.

Under ideal circumstances an isochronal inspection takes about a month to complete and involves over 1,500 maintenance actions and 13 different maintenance shops.

“Typically, we will find about 500 discrepancies during these inspections,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tye Taylor, the 302nd Maintenance Squadron flight chief who oversees these inspections.

Discrepancies, in this case, can be broken or worn parts, cracks, corrosion, structural fatiguing--anything that could cause bigger complications over time if they aren’t addressed.

“We find structural damage that could end up causing catastrophic failure through a domino-like effect -- one crack leads to more and more of them,” said Taylor. “Most of this stuff you won’t see during day-to-day maintenance operations because they are covered up by panels or other components. The goal here is to get the aircraft through the next 540 days with minimal downtime.”

One of the challenges for maintainers is keeping the aircraft in tip-top shape while ensuring enough of them are available to fly missions on a daily basis.

“We don’t like to take them off the flight line because they aren’t flying and that’s what we do here,” said Taylor. “But, this lets us address a lot of the issues that come up during flying operations and take the aircraft off the flight line when it should be flying.

“For instance, repairs on landing gear are very time-consuming and if they need repairs while we are trying to generate sorties out of (the aircraft), that’s a problem. That type of maintenance can put an aircraft out of commission for a week or, sometimes, longer depending on supply availability. We do our best to avoid that.”