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Functions of the Fab Flight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amber Litteral
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

Many working parts go into the successful execution of the flying training mission at the 33rd Fighter Wing. One of those parts is the 33rd Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight. This shop works to maintain the structural stability of aircraft panels, evaluate and maintain the integrity of composite parts and applies chemicals to components as needed.


“Fabrication Flight is made up of 3 sections: Non-Destructive Inspections (NDI), Aircraft Metals Technology (AMT), and Low Observable (LO),” said 2nd Lieutenant Hannah Buell, 33rd MXS Fabrication Flight commander. “Each section has a specific skill set that contributes to keeping the aircraft in a safe condition.”


The NDI section uses different methods to inspect materials and verify the structural integrity of the jet. These inspections are critical for necessary maintenance to continue and keep the flying mission on schedule.


“We enable the F-35 to maintain full mission capability condition by completing inspections and restorations to the F-35’s structure and substructure,” said Staff Sgt. Mason Brewer, a 33rd MXS Fabrication Flight NDI technician. 


Personnel working in the AMT section fabricate and repair aircraft components, support equipment and other projects. 


“I am a welder and machinist for the F-35 program,” said Staff Sgt. Yunus Janahjreh, a 33rd MXS Fabrication Flight AMT journeyman. “We perform maintenance on and off the aircraft used to train new F-35 Pilots. With our expertise, aircraft are repaired swiftly and safely.”


LO Airmen maintain the RAM coatings on the F-35 that maintain the F-35s stealth capabilities. 


“The aircraft stealth system is a key component that allows the mission to be successful and allows the pilot to achieve his/her objectives undetected,” said Senior Airman Dustin Morris, a 33rd MXS Fabrication Flight LO Journeyman. “Fab flight is integral in the stealth upkeep of these aircraft. We’ve implemented many new modifications and tactics to make the F-35 program run smoothly and function more fluidly.”


Each of these three sections works alongside one another daily. LO relies on metals technicians for more extensive metal repairs and NDI for their ability to find smaller damages hidden from the human eye. NDI may assist LO by confirming defects or whether or not a component is structurally sound. 


“The teamwork and communication between these shops are crucial for the mission to succeed,” said Morris.


The teamwork between shops in the fabrication flight extends throughout the entirety of the maintenance group. Personnel from the flight are routinely assisting other shops across the wing; working jobs on a case by case basis.


“Fabrication Flight is integrated very heavily with all other shops in 33rd MXG,” said Buell. “Many of the maintenance tasks performed by the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit have follow-on panel restores that require LO. AMT assists with inspections and repairs called out by various shops across the wing and outside agencies. NDI heavily supports the contracted field teams and the 58th AMU with inspections.”


The 33rd MXS fabrication flight personnel are continually having to overcome new challenges by adapting quickly and safely, always promoting teamwork and ensuring the mission gets accomplished.


“They all have a mindset that directs them to create solutions to old and new problems, and they are constantly asking ‘how can we make this better’,” said Buell. “Whether it’s a process, a tool, or something new altogether, their minds are skilled at finding new and better ways of executing the mission.”


Moving forward, as the F-35 program continues to develop, Fabrication Flight will expands its capabilities and take on new processes and projects instrumental to the 33rd FW and mission of training and developing the world’s finest F-35A Lightning II pilots.


“They are an integral piece of the maintenance puzzle and the mission does not happen without them,” said Buell.