BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Conn. – After nearly three years of having to travel around the country to work, maintainers from the 103rd Airlift Wing finally have an opportunity to do their jobs at home.
The 29,600-square foot state-of-the-art fuel cell facility, built by Cutter Enterprises, LLC of Vernon, Connecticut, was open for business July 26, 2017, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on base.
Bradley’s crew chiefs, fuel systems specialists, and structural maintainers alike wasted no time in breaking-in their new work space, and have had nothing but positive things to say about the cell since then.
One of the greatest benefits of the fuel cell facility is how much safer Bradley’s Airmen are working in this new environment.
Master Sgt. Johnathan Shepard, 103rd Maintenance Squadron fuel systems shop chief, said that even the simplest of features in the fuel cell, like drop lights and a back-up generator, make the job safer and more efficient.
“If someone were to be in the tank and the power failed, we now have back-up power to continue an air purge, which would allow the person to exit the tank safely,” said Shepard.
The fuel cell also has a fuel-foam storage facility, which eliminates the hazard of storing foam from the tanks in the base hangar.
“Having this room that’s positively ventilated allows them to store them somewhere bonded and grounded for long-term storage,” said Shepard. “This whole facility makes our job much easier, much safer, and cuts down on the time of completion for our jobs so the aircraft can return to work and we can complete the mission faster.”
With the completion of the facility, Bradley is quickly becoming the premier airlift wing in the Air National Guard, and other bases are striving to model their processes after the up-and-coming Flying Yankees.
“We’ve spent nearly the last three years flying to different bases. We went to Niagara, Kentucky, Schenectady, and Westover, to name a few,” said Tech. Sgt. Lucas McEnitre, 103rd Maintenance Squadron fuel systems technician.
Since the new facility was built, the tables have turned.
“I know a lot of other units from places like Long Island, Rhode Island and even Kentucky have been calling us. They’re trying to get their aircraft up here because they’re in the same situation that we were in three years ago,” McEntire said. “I think it’s pretty cool, Bradley means business. We’re here to fix planes and be the best at it.”
There is no limit to the benefit that the new facility has brought and will continue to bring to Bradley and surrounding units who have access to the facility. From washing aircraft, painting parts, and controlling corrosion, to climbing in the tanks to repair the fuel cells, Bradley’s maintainers have an easier, safer, and more enjoyable workplace all-around.
As a fairly new C-130 unit, the facility is allowing Bradley to lead the way in airlift capabilities and be a model to other wings.