452nd MXS Avionics Flight vital to C-17 mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Christopher L. Walls
  • 452nd MXS

Hidden away in the backshops of March Air Reserve Base is a flight, unknown to many, but crucial to the C-17 fleet known as the Avionics Flight.  Assigned to the 452nd Maintenance Squadron, airmen in this shop are trained to inspect, test, troubleshoot, repair, align, modify, calibrate and certify various C-17 Avionics automated test station components and aircraft Line Replaceable Units (LRUs).


Avionics Flight provides repairs of avionics equipment, systems and assemblies associated with our assigned aircraft while working closely with Teradyne and Boeing. They accomplish this by maintaining and utilizing the C-17 Automated Test Equipment (CATE) which is manufactured by Teradyne and software created by Boeing.


As one of only eleven C-17 avionics backshops worldwide and the only one for Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), this flight is responsible for testing and repairing over 38 separate Avionics LRUs on the C-17. These LRUs consist of panels and computers that control systems such as fuel, environmental, communications, mission display, flight control, airdrop and warning.


A normal day for a technician consists of performing an initial inspection of a LRU.  From there, the technician attaches the defective unit to a test station, which simulates the inputs/outputs of a C-17, in order to measure the responsiveness of the component. There are different options for repair once a problem is identified with the part. The technician can either order required items through base supply, or use certain common parts that are kept on hand for routine repairs. After a LRU is repaired, it is cleaned, paint touch-ups are applied, if needed and the part is inspected before being packaged and returned to the supply system.


Although the March Avionics backshop primarily repairs parts taken off C-17 aircraft possessed by 452 AMW, it has a bigger overall responsibility.  Boeing has a unique service contract with its C-17 customers which include the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, NATO, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and India.  All of these C-17s make up what is known as the Virtual Fleet.  This means that all spare parts for those aircraft are owned by the United States Air Force until it is installed on a particular C-17 which mitigates U.S. export control laws and regulations. 


March’s Avionics backshop is a direct contributor to replenishing the C-17 spares pool and supporting the C-17 Virtual Fleet.  Spare parts logistics managers at Boeing have consistently relied upon technicians at March ARB to repair faulty parts taken from C-17s in India, Australia and aircraft due in for heavy depot maintenance.  The repaired part can be installed on any C-17 aircraft having a need for it.  The portion the Air Force is required to pay into the contract is then reduced due to the repair action taken.  The other customers benefit by not having to purchase equipment and train personnel needed to repair these parts.  It is win-win situation for the Air Force, Boeing and its Foreign Military Sales customers.


This secluded little flight has a small physical footprint at March ARB, but a far bigger logistical footprint on the rest of the world.  The men and woman within this flight take great pride in their product and the enhancements they are able to provide to the C-17 weapon system.