Measurement lab passes evaluation with precision

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Edwards Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory passed a recent evaluation that ensures the lab performs measurements that are safe, accurate, reliable and traceable.

Maj. Gen. David Harris, Air Force Test Center commander, and Brig. Gen. Carl Schaefer, 412th Test Wing commander, visited the PMEL to officially present the certificate of compliance to the lab staff Aug. 17, 2017.

“Each PMEL has to be recertified every two years,” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Black, 412th Maintenance Squadron, Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment flight technical manager. “Air Force Metrology and Calibration Management (from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio) sent two evaluators here who inspected the PMEL April 24-28.”

The assessment was conducted on a pass or fail basis in several functional areas such as the management system, measurement capability and environmental system control, which is evaluated because some of the equipment needs to be in a cool environment.

Calibrations are important across the Air Force and especially to flight test because the PMEL ensures that the equipment testers are using make valid measurements. So when a test is performed they know the platform they're testing on is correct, according to the PMEL staff.

“PMEL is important because we are responsible for calibrating and/or repairing standards and other (test measurement and diagnostic equipment). These calibrations and/or repairs are what guarantee that TMDE will make qualitative and quantitative measurements on operational systems and other equipment. All of our calibration services are traceable to the United States of America’s National Institute of Standards and Technology,” Black said.

Everything from micrometers to torque wrenches and airplane scales are calibrated. The PMEL even assists the 412th Security Forces Squadron with their radar guns when needed.

“We do not actually calibrate the radar guns for SFS, but we calibrate the tuning forks (what creates the different frequencies) that are used to calibrate the radar guns,” said Black.

The lab at Edwards also supports measurement needs for other bases around the region. Black said items come in from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; March Air Reserve Base, California; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Travis Air Force Base, California, to name a few. Equipment from these bases varies from oxygen-clean pressure gauges to high-frequency test sets.

With the latest certification, the PMEL staff of 41 will continue to provide precise support until the next evaluation.

“For PMEL, the certification is everything,” said Black. “It means we are good to continue with our current processes and methods for the next two years. What we are doing is working. However, the evaluators always let us know what can be improved upon from their findings and we use the next two years to build upon their feedback.”