HAFB, nexus for Secondary Power Systems

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The technical and supply experts of the 419th Supply Chain Management Squadron manage components critical to the mission-capable status of many Air Force assets.

With support from its sister unit, the 530th Commodities Maintenance Squadron and devoted contractors, the 419th SCMS’s mission is to provide serviceable Secondary Power Systems to warfighters. These SPSs include: Auxiliary Power Units (APU), Auxiliary Drive Gear-boxes (ADG), Jet Fuel Starters (JFS) and Aircraft Mounted Accessory Drives (AMAD).

These complex components not only start jet engines on the ground and in the air (in the event of engine shut-down), but they also, via a Power Take-off Shaft connection to the main engine, provide hydraulic/oil pressure and electrical current. These components also bleed off excess pressurized air coming from the APU, which often can be heard from the ground as a high-pitched noise.

Supported aircraft include: bombers (B-1, B-2); fighters and tactical bombers (F-5, F-15, F-16); tactical close air support aircraft (A-10, HH-60); the T-38 trainer; and large transport, reconnaissance, and refueling aircraft (C-5, C-130, E-3, KC-135). Ground Power support assets with internal turbo-fan engines are supported, as well.

Secondary Power Systems are mission-critical internal components, but they also have a life-saving capability, such as in the case of the “Miracle on the Hudson” where U.S. Airways Flight 1549 made a controlled landing in the Hudson River.

Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft hit a large flock of geese resulting in catastrophic failure in both engines and total loss of thrust. The crew tried restarting both engines, but they would not “light.” It was then that the pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, reached above his head and said, “I’m switching on the APU.” Although it was impossible to restart the engines damaged by ingesting geese at 300 mph, the APU provided the power required to operate the hydraulic system, giving Sully the ability to guide the aircraft to a perfect water landing and saving the lives of 155 people.

The 419th SCMS includes 55 government civilians and contractors. They comprise an engineering flight; two asset management flights; and a business office with a wide array of functional expertise. The 419 SCMS business office is one-of-a-kind in the 748th Supply Chain Management Group because they are the only business office supporting multiple squadrons: the 414th SCMS (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles), 417th SCMS (Landing Gear), and 419th SCMS (Secondary Power Systems).

Gene Taylor, 419th SCMS director and former USAF aviator whose first-hand knowledge of secondary power systems brings a unique and experienced perspective to the squadron, said of his unit, “Our job in the 419th Supply Chain Management Squadron can be difficult. Some of the airframes we support are older than the people supporting them, so obtaining replacement parts can be a challenge. But what we do to keep USAF and allied aircraft flying and supporting America’s sons and daughters in combat is the reward. The men and women in our unit provide world-class support to the warfighter—it’s my honor to lead them.”

As challenging as it is, the squadron works with laser focus, knowing warfighters can’t execute their mission if the squadron doesn’t execute theirs. It is that understanding that keeps the personnel of the 419 SCMS resolute in purpose and guides their daily activities.