By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charlotte Oliver, John C. Stennis Strike Group Public Affiars
U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY – As jets roar off the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), carrying out missions to protect the freedoms of Americans, the pilots show no fear because they are confident the Sailors of their squadron meticulously maintain their jets.
That maintenance is done under the watchful eyes of the Sailors from Quality Assurance (QA) division. Their mission is to prevent the occurrence of defects in aviation maintenance, and to make sure that all the programs under the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are adhered to correctly and safely.
“We have to audit every work center to make sure every program is being followed, from training how to perform the maintenance on these planes correctly,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Ayokunnu Aremu, from Daly City, Calif.
Quality Assurance Representatives (QAR) are subject matter experts from every aviation rating. In order to become a QAR, Sailors must first attend and pass Quality Assurance Administration School. After attending this school, the QARs complete Personnel Qualification Standards and Job Qualification Requirements for all other aviation ratings in the maintenance department, ready to perform QA functions for the squadron.
“We’re the top guns, so-to-speak; the top 5 percent of our squadron,” said Aviation Electronic’s Technician 1st Class Christopher Quinday, from Fresno, Calif. “It’s a lot of hard work to get to this point.”
QARs conduct audits of the work centers and are in charge of qualifying work center collateral duty inspectors. To become an inspector, a Sailor must be recommended in the QA field, pass an in-rate exam, a NAMP test, and a corrosion test.
To help Sailors maintain the aircraft, an Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) is used to guide them through both maintenance and troubleshooting. These heavy-duty laptops have condensed thousands of pages of Maintenance Requirement Cards (MRCs) and technical drawings into one computer system.
The QAR’s presence is seen all around the ship. They can be spotted everywhere from the hangar bay to the flight deck conducting spot checks on aircraft maintenance and ensuring safety programs are being followed.
“Aviation maintenance is a lot more controlled than the surface fleet because there’s a lot more scrutiny. There is no room for error,” said Senior Chief Aviation Electrician’s Mate Daniel Castillo, from Avon Lake, Ohio. “When the plane is airborne there’s one, or two, or more people’s lives depending on that aircraft to help them succeed in their mission and get them home safely.”
The Sailors of QA work day and night training Sailors, conducting inspections, and preparing the next Sailor to be a part of the QA team. The knowledge and training the QARs provide improves the efficiency of the squadron and decreases the down time of the aircraft.