MALS-31 van pad Marines, sailors, artisans repair F/A-18s

18 Sep 2009 | Pfc. Courtney C. Hundley

When a squadron can’t repair the parts of one of their Fightertown’s F/A-18 Hornets, they can send it to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31. The Air Station may be confident that the Marines, sailors, and artisans, skilled civilians, of MALS- 31 van pad are quickly repairing the equipment.

Each mobile maintenance facility on the van pad has a different purpose and is divided into two divisions: the 500 division, which is airframes, and the 600 division, which deals with avionics.

Some of the jobs the 500 division consists of are hydraulics, welders and metal smiths, and in the 600 division there are many jobs such as radar, communications and micro miniature repair.

When the part of the jet arrives at its designated area at the van pad, it’s analyzed and repaired or ordered to replace the broken part, according to Gunnery Sgt. Brian Smith, the air frames chief with MALS-31.

“Although the van pad can be noisy, crowded, and hard to communicate with others because it’s so isolated, we always have something to do and manage to get our job done,” Smith said.

Even though each mobile maintenance facility has a specific job to complete, some Marines, sailors and artisans are able to cross study and learn the jobs of others around them.

“You’re never done learning,” said Master Sgt. David Loftin, the MALS-31 quality assurance chief. “The moment you think you’re done learning is the moment you need to find something new to learn.”

Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 also sends its Marines and sailors in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, by each individual mobile maintenance facilities.

 “When it’s time to deploy, we just pack up our mobile maintenance facility, like a box, to be taken by plane to wherever we deploy to,” Smith said. “It’s nice to know when you deploy you have your original work space.”

All together, the Marines, sailors and artisans have four main jobs in the van pad: quality assurance, avionics, production control and airframes. All of theses jobs are vital to the Air station to help keep F/A-18s flying in the sky.

“At the end of the day what I have to show for my job is that nobody got hurt, the aircraft launched, and everything on the van pad is being done in good quality,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Regan Kieff, the MALS-31 QA Officer.