JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
When fabricating ornate aircraft parts or repairing flightline support equipment, it is the mission and responsibility of the eight-Airmen metals technology flight to ensure aircraft readiness in a safe and timely manner.
On a daily basis, the 1st Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology flight uses their unique skill set, heavy machinery and an assortment of lathes and torches to fabricate functional aircraft parts and tools.
“A lot of other shops may put things together or take them apart, but here in fabrication, we actually make parts for the aircraft that they might not necessarily be able to get,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David Norgaard, 1st MXS Aircraft metals technology journeyman. “We evaluate damage on the aircraft in different ways and try to figure out the best way to fix different things.”
Metals technology is part of the fabrication flight, which also includes low observable and nondestructive inspection. Together, they help ensure JBLE’s pilots and aircraft are mission-ready and deployable at a moment’s notice.
“Our job is unpredictable,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Roberto Figueroa, 1st MXS aircraft metals technology journeyman. “We don’t have a set schedule on what kind of jobs we might have on a daily basis. It could be a few jobs on one day and the next day we have an overwhelming number of jobs.”
Large-scale jobs are presented to the technicians and analyzed to see if they have the appropriate tools and the capability to fix the necessary part. Some of the tools they utilize are metal lathes, plasma cutters, an abrasive chop saw, metal inert gas welders and a computer numerical controlled machine.
“Other shops have exactly what they’re doing that day laid out while we fix things as they break and find the best way to resolve the problem,” Norgaard said. “We don’t see the same thing every single day, whether it be some new way something breaks or is stuck in some form or fashion. We do local manufacturing jobs as well, so we may get tasked to fabricate something to help the aircraft perform better or safer.”
By fabricating certain parts at a local level rather than using different repair avenues, metals technologists reduce costs, time and resources for JBLE and the Air Force.