Air Force Featured Stories

For Dyess maintainers, little shop pays big dividends

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Lauren Linscott
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
For most maintainers, the answer to a broken part is easy: replace the part, continue the mission. For the Air Force Repair Enhancement Program shop, the broken part is the mission.

AFREP Airmen are responsible for repairing especially costly pieces of equipment or equipment essential to the mission. Though simple parts or pieces can be fixed within other shops on base, sometimes the project is too complex to be easily resolved within one agency. That's when AFREP Airmen are called in.

"Many of the jobs we receive come to us because of the experience we have," said Tech. Sgt. Tyler Atkins, 7th Maintenance Group AFREP manager. "The AFREP Airmen are the people that take things apart and figure out why they're broken. Sometimes the other shops simply don't have that kind of time or manpower to devote. "

While AFREP Airmen attempt to fix any piece of equipment that comes through their door, one of their main areas of focus is circuit cards, which are costly and often essential to an aircraft's mission. When a hole is burned into the card or a circuit no longer works, the piece is then brought to the AFREP shop to find out if it can be salvaged. Often, these parts are multi-layer projects that can take several hours to repair.

However, the hard work of the AFREP Airmen pays off...literally. When a part is received at the AFREP shop, the amount of money the part would cost to purchase is provided for repair. Often the cost of repair is much less than the amount allotted for the piece. The remainder of that money is then given to other shops around base to purchase other pieces of essential equipment. In the last fiscal year, AFREP Airmen were able to provide other shops on base with $2.7 million.

The Airmen that work in AFREP are brought in from different shops on base for a three-year period. Each has his or her own specialty to contribute, and each is one of the most highly qualified in his or her field.

Staff Sgt. Aimee Ruiz, 7th MXG is an excellent example of the skilled Airmen working in the AFREP shop. Ruiz was specifically chosen for the shop as a programmer for the Eclypse Elite system, a highly-sophisticated way of detecting circuit card issues.

"Many people are interviewed to be a part of AFREP," she explained. "I came because of the Eclypse Elite program and now that I'm attached to the AFREP shop, I have the time and ability to focus on the program."

While most of the jobs that AFREP Airmen perform impact the base internally, the Eclypse Elite program has the future possibility to affect the Air Force as a whole. Instead of spending hours manually testing circuit cards for shorts or other issues, this system allows a programmer to code a set of tests on a computer that an analyzer translates. The analyzer can then detect and locate degradations in the circuit card within a matter of minutes. The program is currently utilized on base, and if it is approved by higher headquarters, it will be able to be used throughout the B1-B Lancer program.

Though the shop is only comprised of five Airmen, the impact it has on the base is impressive. Through the repair of costly equipment, the AFREP shop ensures that every part is utilized to its maximum potential. No matter the job or its technical difficulty, the AFREP shop provides Team Dyess the ability to continue the mission.