KADENA AIR BASE OKINAWA, Japan --
Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 power line technicians conducted “hot pit, hot seat” training here Dec. 22.
“In between flights, you have to do entirely new inspections, so the purpose of the hot pit, hot seat is so the aircrew can switch out without ever shutting down the aircraft,” said Sgt. Anthony Jefferis, VMFA(AW)-225 power line, day crew noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
Not only are the engines hot while pilots switch out, the F/A-18 Hornets land and are refueled while running.
“It’s a dangerous situation, you have fuel going into an airplane with basically a fire behind it,” said Staff Sgt. Jay C. Barnard, power line division chief.
The purpose of conducting hot pit, hot seat training is to refuel, inspect, replace pilots and get the aircraft back in the sky as quickly as possible.
“Normally the aircraft would have to land and do a turn-around inspection, which takes a half an hour. Ordnance has to safe it, which takes 10 to 15 minutes. Then the aircrew would have to walk to the aircraft and do a pre-flight inspection, which takes another 15 to 20 minutes,” Jefferis said.
This hour long evolution is cut nearly in half during a speedy hot pit, hot seat changeover.
“We stage Marines out by the hot fueling pits waiting for the aircraft to come in,” said Jefferis. “They taxi them in, park them, hook up the fuel receptacle, refuel them, disconnect and get out of there.”
After the aircraft is refueled, power line technicians conduct a quick but attentive top-to-bottom aircraft inspection before new aircrew take charge.
“When the old aircrew gets out, they have a brief 30 second discussion about whether there’s anything to look for in the aircraft,” said Jefferis.
A power line technician, designated as the wingman, goes through a functions check with the pilots before giving them the OK for takeoff.
“Our guys are put into a position of leadership to coordinate that movement,” said Barnard. “It’s good experience for them to coordinate all these moving parts.”
Hot pit, hot seat changeover situations can be useful during combat engagements when aircraft need to be quickly turned for reengagement.
“That’s the big picture; these Marines getting out there and doing their job to get these aircrew where they need to be when they need to be there,” said Barnard. “There’s always a sense of urgency when we do everything.”
After the hot pit, hot seat changeover is completed, power line technicians conduct all routine inspections before new pilots take charge of the aircraft.