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How the Air Force Fights Corrosion

Monday, February 26, 2018

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As reported by Senior Airman Sean Campbell, when faced recently with repairing corrosion on a KC-135, the Fairchild Air Force Base sheet metal shop had to discuss the fix with engineers at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, as the work required exceeded field-repair capabilities, and repairs of that scale need to be documented.

Technical sergeant Shawn Roberge noted that he drafted an Engineering Technical Assistance Request, while speaking with the engineers at Tinker. This resulted in a repair plan that had to undergo approval, as sanctioned guidance was required.

Images: Fairchild Air Force Base

From there, a non-destructive inspection, using ultrasonic equipment, determined the depth of the corrosion.

“Writing ETARs helps prepare us for future repairs, as we can refer back to them and possibly have the repair submitted and added permanently to our Technical Orders,” Roberge said.

Repair Guidance

Guidance required the aircraft to be in a no-load configuration during the repair, which helped alleviate any stress on the airframe by using supports. From there, a non-destructive inspection, using ultrasonic equipment, determined the depth of the corrosion. Work was completed, and the aircraft was returned to functioning capability.

“The Aircraft Structural Maintenance shop requests over 50 ETARs annually, as we are discovering more corrosion at the field level that must be repaired,” said Roberge. “This entire process is performed to return the aircraft to full mission-capable status as well as negating the need for a Depot Repair Team to come here and repair it.”

When faced with repairing corrosion on a KC-135, the Fairchild Air Force Base sheet metal shop had to discuss the fix with engineers at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, as the work required exceeded field-repair capabilities, and repairs of that scale need to be documented.

An older fleet of aircraft is at higher risk for issues like corrosion. Performing the repair on site also saves time. If that kind of repair is not viable, an Unscheduled Depot Level Maintenance request would be created to send the aircraft to Tinker for fixes.

Roberge noted that this kind of issue was found almost every Isochronal Inspection, which are conducted every two years.

Fairchild Air Force Base

Fairchild Air Force Base has been open since 1942, serving as a “WWII repair and supply depot, then as a Strategic Air Command bomber, tanker and ICBM wing during the Cold War and, finally, as an Air Mobility Command air refueling wing supporting contingency operations around the world,” according to the website.

The War Department chose the location for the base due to its better weather conditions, its location 300 miles from the coast and the fact that the Cascades mountain range provides a natural barrier.

   

Tagged categories: Aerospace; Corrosion; Corrosion resistance; Rehabilitation/Repair; U.S. Air Force

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