Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory at Travis Air Force Base

Precision Measurements Shop Helps Mission Stay Safe and Accurate

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — It may take dozens of maintainers to keep an aircraft mission ready, but it is often unseen that the tools and test equipment they use have its very own maintainers. The Airmen in the 60th Maintenance Squadron Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory at Travis calibrate, maintain and certify the test equipment used directly and indirectly in the maintenance of aircraft.

Airman First Class Kourtnie Melendez, a calibration technician with the 60th Maintenance Squadron’s Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory, uses a stainless steel gauge block to measure a micrometer, while Staff Sgt. John Cox, a quality assurance evaluator, observes her work. PMEL fine tunes countless pieces of equipment, like this micrometer that is used by a jet engine shop belonging to the California Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Ken Wright)

“There is no room for error,” said Airman 1st Class Kourtnie Melendez, 60th MXS PMEL calibration technician. “Precision is the first word of this job.”

If Melendez doesn’t do the job properly, it can result in Travis aircraft being grounded, she said. Maintainers would not be able to work the aircraft without properly calibrated test equipment.

To make sure the job is done properly and all the PMEL technicians are adhering to the proper technical data, quality assurance inspectors frequently conduct reviews on the calibration of equipment.

“Being QA in the PMEL shop is a two-man job,” said Staff Sgt. John Cox, 60th MXS PMEL quality assurance inspector. “We have to evaluate 29 technicians for adherence to guidance, as well as, inspect 8,900 pieces of test, measurement and diagnostic equipment items supporting nine different airframes.”

Having a heavy workload makes it all that more important for safety to be the number one priority, Cox said.

“As with most maintenance jobs, we have to be mindful of any tasks involving high pressure, force, high voltage and radio frequency radiation,” Cox said.

With all the dangerous aspects and the importance of doing the job correctly, the PMEL shop can be quite the challenge, Melendez said.

“Pressure can be very dangerous when it gets into the thousands of pounds per square inch,” Melendez said. “We abide by all the safety warnings and cautions and are very safe when it comes to handling these things. Focusing on the task at hand and calibrating equipment with zero errors are the greatest challenges.”

The challenge for Cox is to go on “fact finding” missions to find the root cause of any nonconformity that may be found with equipment, he said.
“Sometimes the root cause is attributed to training, or a faulty piece of equipment, those are easy,” Cox said. “The more challenging ones are distinguishing the accidents from disregarding policy; basically did this truly happen because of human error or was it because this person did not follow a step, note, caution or warning?”

Whether it’s carefully calibrating test equipment or ensuring the quality standards are being properly upheld, the maintainers at Travis can count on their PMEL shop to do the job safe, accurate and fast. (source www.travis.af.mil)

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