Fabrication Flight: Body shop for F-15s

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brian Miles Sr.
  • 33d Fighter Wing Public Affairs
If a car mechanic needs a part for a Ford F-150 he calls up the local parts warehouse and has the part shipped to him that very day, but when a maintainer for an F-15 Eagle needs a part they're not always that easy to find - that's when the maintainer calls the 33d Maintenance Fabrication Flight. 

When the F-15Cs on Eglin were stood down the 33d Maintenance Squadron was instrumental in getting the 33d fighters back in the sky. 

"The Fabrication Flight played a major role in getting the jets back in the air during the F-15 grounding," said Senior Master Sgt. Doug Bingham, 33d MXS Fabrication Flight chief. "Through meticulous inspections the fabrication flight completed 4 separate time compliances technical orders and routed all compiled inspection information to Warner Robins AFB and Bolling AFB, the goal was not only accomplished it was exceeded."
Warner Robins AFB and Bolling AFB were the two locations that collected and analyzed the data concerning the F 15C stand down. 

The Fabrication Flight consists of three sections - structural maintenance, non-destructive inspection and metals technology. 

Structural maintenance is the largest and includes paint, corrosion control, corrosion repair and all other structural problems that can occur. 

"We not only work on metal, but we paint the aircraft including the decals," said Staff Sgt. Kyle Sichting, 33d MXS aircraft structural maintenance craftsman. "We also build advance composite of 2-D, the computer-based generation of images in two geometric dimensions, for repairs on the canopies of the F-15." 

Non-destructive inspection or NDI includes inspections of the rib facets, radiography, magnetic particle inspection and spectral machine oil analysis. One of the machines used to conduct NDI is the spectral oil analysis machine which gives clues to the wear of an aircraft and what parts of the engine that need repair. 

"We make sure everything is running smoothly with the engine and we take imagery of the F-15 to make sure there is no foreign object debris, within the aircraft. We also look for dents and internal defects", said Staff Sgt. Sarah Jornacion, 33d MXS non-destructive inspection craftsman. 

The device used to view the inside of the aircraft is called the Nortec 2000D. The Nortec allows Airman to detect cracks and defects on and under the surface of the aircraft.
The radiographic technique and digital scanners give an internal x-ray of the aircraft the resulting image is then printed out for in depth analysis to identify FOD or any other harmful materials to the aircraft. 

The metals technology section includes welding, water jet cutting and insertion presses.
"Metals technology is a very precise part of repairing an aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Lynch, 33d MXS aircraft metal technology craftsman. "Most pieces or parts must be cut to a thousandth of an inch and we have amazing machines to aid us in getting it perfect."
A water-jet cutting machine is used when heat can not be applied to a part because applying heat to it could weaken the part. Welding is used when Airmen need to join two pieces of metal together. The welds are usually as strong if not stronger than the two metals being joined. 

Another tool metals technology uses is the computer numeric control which is like a Xerox copier for parts. The computer reads blue prints of a part and instructs a machining tool on how to fabricate the part.
The Fabrication Flight is the largest and most diverse flight in the Maintenance Squadron. 

The Airmen in the fabrication flight come from many different and diverse backgrounds but hand one thing in common, they all like working with their hands.
"Everything from open general to the love of maintenance, we all love what we do and it's shown in how we continue to exceed the standard", said Sergeant Bingham.