MILWAUKEE - Students with the aviation technician program at Milwaukee Area Technical College trained with Airmen and assets assigned to the propulsion shop at the 128th Air Refueling Wing in order to complete course work needed for their airframe and power plant license Feb. 9-27 here.
MATC works with the 128th Air Refueling Wing to send their students to the base to receive hands-on training with the CFM-56 turbofan aircraft engine where they will encounter engine changes, working with line replaceable units, fan blade inspections and practicing engine starts in the aircraft simulator.
For the past 18 years, MATC has sent at least three classes per year through the 128th Air Refueling Wing propulsion shop to get further training and hands-on experience. Each class cycles four to five students through the propulsion shop in one week. These students are near the end of their two-year aviation technician program and are scheduled to graduate in May. After graduation, the students will be prepared to pursue jobs with commercial airlines or smaller aviation companies.
Senior Master Sgt. Michael Nuoffer, the propulsion shop supervisor at the 128th Air Refueling Wing, and Scott Garland, the instructor of aeronautics at MATC, helped start the partnership between their organizations in 1997.
"This training is of value to us because it helps my Airmen become better instructors by bringing in students who will ask several in-depth questions," Nuoffer said. "It helps MATC students because the equipment we have is top of the line and state of the art."
The propulsion shop at the 128th Air Refueling Wing is fortunate to have a condemned CFM-56 turbofan engine dedicated as a training asset. This specific training turbofan engine is special to the 128th Air Refueling Wing as it was salvaged from a tragic accident that occurred on the flight line at the 128th Air Refueling Wing in 1993.
"The CFM-56 is the most widely produced jet engine in the world," Nuoffer said. "An aircraft powered by CFM-56 engine takes off or lands every four seconds, 24 hours a day. So if these students were to go over to the commercial side of the house, there is about a 99% chance that this is what they'll be working on."
"I've never seen the turbofan engine," said Michael Rodriguez, an aviation technician student with MATC. "It's cool to see how big it is, all the systems on it and to take it down like we would be taking it down off of an actual aircraft."
Rodriquez is nearing the completion of his aviation technician program and will finally achieve his airframe and power plant license, commonly referred to as A&P. After graduation he hopes to find a job with commercial airlines.
"Working here for this portion of the program opens up the door to the many possibilities that are out there for A&Ps," Rodriguez said. It keeps you interested in the program. This is something that not a lot of people get to see, even if you are A&P, if you don't have the partnership that MATC has with the 128th."
Tech. Sgt. Eric Dorn, an aerospace propulsion craftsman with more than 15 years of experience, has worked with MATC students as a trainer for the turbofan engine portion of their education for the past four years.
"We see stuff differently than they do in the commercial world," Dorn said. "They are flying a lot more in the commercial world than we do in the Guard. But it's nice to share stories and experiences to get a better understanding of how these engines work."
In addition to training MATC students during the average three weeks of classes, the 128th Air Refueling Wing propulsion shop encourages their newer Airmen to attend the training. It is an opportunity for the Airmen to work on upgrade training to achieve their next skill level.
"Everyone wants to learn and get hands-on training," Dorn said. "That's something that everyone shares in this class."
During their training, the students and Airmen will experience learning about different kinds of engine failures and emergencies by working with another valued asset of the 128th Air Refueling Wing - the aircraft simulator. The benefit of using the aircraft simulator is teaching the students and Airmen how to react to and correct engine emergencies in a controlled environment.
"The last thing you want to do is practice on an aircraft," Dorn said. "Working with the simulator is good practice for us. You don't want to see an emergency, but you want to prepare for them as best as possible."
The partnership between the 128th Air Refueling Wing and MATC is maintained by a certificate of agreement that is reviewed every two years by lawyers from both organizations. Originally, Nuoffer and Garland forwarded their request for the educational program, which was approved by the state of Wisconsin, the Air Force, and the FAA.
"A lot of my students who come out of this program ultimately end up to be leaders wherever they go to work," Garland said. "And I'm thinking that this is one of the elements that makes them realize whether or not they can be a leader, are a leader or want to be a leader. By working here they are stepping back and looking at what kind of person they want to be in the aviation career field."
Nuoffer and Garland intend to continue the partnership between their organizations and continue to educate their Airmen and students for years to come.
"I thank the Air National Guard and the 128th for giving us this opportunity every year and showing us the professionalism that they have," Garland said. "I always consider this as the gem of the program that we have for aviation."