Military News

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Keeping the Buff young: aircraft structural maintenance

by Senior Airman Jannelle Dickey
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

8/5/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- At times, the B-52 Stratofortress gets weary from long missions, and it is up to a team of specialists to replenish the skin and bones of the aircraft.

The 2nd Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight consists of three units: structural maintenance or "sheet metal", nondestructive inspection and metals technology.

These sections are critical to maintaining and fabricating aircraft parts in order to keep the B-52 in flight.

In addition to the combination of three units, the 2nd MXS integrates reservists from the 707th MXS as a part of the Total Force Integration program.

"We work together as a flight in the sense that everything we do ties together," said Senior Airman Dylan Fox, 707th MXS aircraft structural maintenance journeyman. "We aren't side -to-side all the time but we are always working hand-in-hand toward one goal."

Sheet metal focuses on the maintenance and appearance of the B-52's outer skin.

"Our motto in sheet metal is 'beat it to fit, paint it to match,'" said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Reynolds, assistant sheet metal NCO in-charge. "We complete various jobs to keep the jets in the air and corrosion free."

Once Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conducts an inspection of the B-52, sheet metal repairs any defects that are reported. They restore and repair the wings, panels, hinges, apply paint and decals, and identify and treat corrosion.

"One of our biggest goals is to keep corrosion to a minimum," said Fox. "We are really aggressive towards corrosion prevention."

"The B-52s have been back and forth over saltwater environments," Reynolds explains. "With the jets being in an environment like that, it can be harsh on them."

It is vital for these Airmen to pay attention to detail in every aspect of job whether big or small.

"Doing a five minute job can prevent foreign object damage," said Reynolds. "A loose rivet could get sucked up into the engine and there goes millions of dollars."

Fixing cracks or replacing rivets may seem simple, but the B-52 can't fly without a repair from sheet metal.

"Crack repairs are considered a red x: no fly condition," said Fox. "For me to fix it and say it's up to standards, allows the B-52 to complete its mission."

Sheet metal never stops; they ensure the B-52s are ready for the mission 24/7. Fox takes pride in being a part of the bigger picture.

"I get to fix a piece, ensuring a jet defending our country stays in the air," he said. "This makes my job really rewarding."

Editor's note: This is part one of a three-part series on the mission of the 2nd Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight.

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