Electrical Power Production Specialist Keeps Pilots Safe

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Camille Lienau
  • 104th Fighter Wing

“A typical day on the job encompasses a variety of tasks such as troubleshooting, equipment repairs, preventative maintenance, and good record-keeping,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Reniewicz, 104th Fighter Wing power production shop leader. “Our mornings start with daily inspections on our arresting systems. We will go out on the runway and raise and lower the cables to verify the control tower’s functions are working.”

These mission-critical specialists ensure our F-15 Eagle’s arresting systems are operating properly. Arresting systems are cables that span the width of the runway to safely catch aircraft in the event of an engine malfunction or rejected takeoff. With Barnes having an alert-fighter mission, these systems need to be thoroughly capable for both the F-15s and any other tailhook equipped aircraft that may need to land.

“Our system is responsible for ensuring the pilot’s safety and minimizing damage to the airframe during an emergency stop,” said Reniewicz. “The brakes we use have an energy-absorbing capacity of 65 million foot-pounds and can stop an aircraft traveling in either direction in 1,200 feet or less.”

After Reniewicz confirms that the arresting systems are in-service for the aircraft, he handles any preventative maintenance that is due and completes any equipment repairs as needed. Additionally, he performs monthly power system testing on the base generators to ensure reliability in the event of a commercial loss of power. There are several generators that can power the entire base during a full power loss and an automated transfer switch to constantly monitor commercial power, he said. “When any imperfections are detected in the commercial supply, a remote signal starts the generator and supplies the building with emergency power.”

Senior Master Sgt. Matt Chapman, 104th Fighter Wing civil engineering chief enlisted manager, oversees the work in the electrical power production shop. Chapman explained that Airmen like Reniewicz who maintain arresting systems are critical to ensuring pilot safety in the event of an accident.

“TSgt Reniewicz came to us as a qualified Active-Duty transfer who not only had tons of knowledge and troubleshooting skills but also adhered to the Air Force core values we strive for every day,” said Chapman. “He truly is a young leader that pushes his career field to the limits and works with leadership at all levels to ensure that the mission never fails. He continuously works on upgrading the arresting system and maintaining it so it remains in service 100% of the time,” he said.

During a recent deployment, he worked alongside other specialists to build a 6 MW power plant for the base. This type of power plant typically powers all operations and facilitates fighter jets returning from missions.

“On my most recent deployment, we had over 70 generators, six aircraft arresting systems, and dozens of light carts all operating nonstop,” said Reniewicz. “In these situations, there is no doubt that the mission doesn’t succeed without the power production career field. If the power goes out, the rest of the base can’t function,” he said.

He has always had great pride in his military service, so after completing his bachelor’s degree while on Active-Duty, he returned to his hometown of Chicopee and transitioned into the Massachusetts National Guard to serve his local community.