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Life support, survival equipment AFSCs merging into aircrew flight equipment

Airman 1st Class Robert Coviello teaches Tech. Sgt. Calvin Warner, Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight, sewing techniques on a harness at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The instruction is part of cross utilization training to merge aircrew life support and survival equipment into a new Air Force specialty code, aircrew flight equipment.
U.S. Air Force photo/Scott Hallford

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airman 1st Class Robert Coviello teaches Tech. Sgt. Calvin Warner, Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight, sewing techniques on a harness. The instruction is part of cross utilization training to merge aircrew life support and survival equipment into a new Air Force specialty code, aircrew flight equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Scott Hallford)

Tech. Sgt. Thomas Canada, Senior Airman Adam Miranda and Staff Sgt. John Pulley go over packing a parachute as part of cross utilization training at the 18th Operations Support Squadron's Aircrew Equipment Flight Kadena Air Base, Japan. Sergeants Canada and Pulley are life support trained, while Airman Miranda is survival equipment trained. 
U.S. Air Force/Scott Hallford

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Tech. Sgt. Thomas Canada, Senior Airman Adam Miranda and Staff Sgt. John Pulley go over packing a parachute as part of cross utilization training at the 18th Operations Support Squadron's Aircrew Equipment Flight. Sergeants Canada and Pulley are life support trained, while Airman Miranda is survival equipment trained. (U.S. Air Force photo by Scott Hallford)

Staff Sgt. Richard Bystrzycki, right, shows Tech. Sgt. Timothy Middleton, left, maintenance procedures on a life preserver unit during cross training into the new aircrew flight equipment career field at the 18th Operations Squadron Kadena Air Base, Japan. U.S. Air Force/Scott Hallford

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Staff Sgt. Richard Bystrzycki, right, shows Tech. Sgt. Timothy Middleton, left, maintenance procedures on a life preserver unit during cross training into the new aircrew flight equipment career field at the 18th Operations Squadron here. (U.S. Air Force by Scott Hallford)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Aircrew life support and survival equipment Airmen have always had jobs that mirrored each other somewhat. Under a new directive, the two Air Force specialty codes are merging and Kadena is the first base within Pacific Air Forces and one of the first Air Force-wide to be as far into the process as they are. 

More than 60 Kadena Airmen are undergoing cross-utilization training to transition into the new AFSC, aircrew flight equipment (1P0X1), by the end of October 2007. The merger applies to all E-7s and below, and E-8s with the 2A790 fabrication AFSC who have a background in survival equipment. 

"There was a 15 percent overlap in what we did in both fields," said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Robinson, Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight chief. "The biggest change will be the 85 percent that is different that we were not doing. The life support folks need to learn about parachutes and the survival equipment people need to learn what life support does. That's why we're cross training." 

Airmen coming from the aircrew life support and survival equipment schools are still maintaining their respective AFSCs until the merger is fully implemented. 

"We're keeping them focused on what they went to school for, but we are also training them to be able to upgrade their levels in the aircrew flight equipment requirements," he said. 

Sergeant Robinson said the implementation is being done in two phases. The first phase was the integration of all affected members into the new aircrew flight equipment flight under the 18th Operations Support Squadron and training to three-level, or basic knowledge as that taught in technical school, by October 2007. 

"We're at 65 percent of phase one and well on track leading up to October 2007," he said. 

Phase two, to be completed by October 2008, entails having all members trained to the more proficient five-level. All cross utilization training is to be completed, the aircrew life support and survival equipment schools merge into the aircrew flight equipment school, and the new AFSC takes effect. 

"I just transferred here and that is about when the merger started," said Tech. Sgt. Barbara Ivey, 18th OSS material control NCO. "I was aircrew life support and will soon be aircrew flight equipment." 

Sergeant Robinson said the merger is conceptually Air Force Smart Operations 21 in efficiencies that will be realized. 

"For example, all sewing has been done by survival equipment. Life support may have brought in a "G" suit with a hole in it that may have taken a week to repair," he said. We're buying more sewing machines and will train the life support folks how to use them. With all aircrew flight equipment people being able to sew, it may take 15 minutes for a repair." Customers should not notice any real difference with merger other than efficiency. 

Beyond the efficiencies, Sergeant Robinson said the new field will also be a career enhancer. "There are only so many chief master sergeant billets in each of the existing fields right now. With the merger, those positions will probably plus up, giving everyone in the new field a better chance of making chief."