Experienced mechanics complete specialized repair

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --

The 167th Airlift Wing’s aircraft structural maintenance shop completed a repair on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft here last month, a job typically completed at specialized facilities by highly experienced technicians.

Two Boeing Repair and Modifications Services (RAMS) team members provided oversight and advice as the wing’s aircraft structural maintenance technicians removed and replaced a cracked jack support box.

The jack support box holds the jack adapter arm which slides out through the side of the aircraft serving as a point of contact for the jack.

The crack in the support box was discovered as the aircraft was being prepared to be placed on jacks for scheduled maintenance.

 “The crack in the box could have been easily missed,” said Master Sgt. Scott Dolese, an aircraft structural maintenance technician who spent more than 100 hours working on the repair over a three week period.

Dolese explained that the bushings on the aircraft’s jack adapter are inspected before the aircraft can be jacked, but inspecting the jack support box isn’t required as part of the process.

The aircraft’s technical data states that a jack fitting repair is a depot level process. Depot-level repairs require specialized facilities, tools and equipment or uniquely experienced or trained personnel according to the Air Force’s instruction on depot maintenance.

Master Sgt. Brad Teter, the 167th Aircraft Structural Maintenance supervisor, said the majority of the maintainers in the ASM shop are former C-5 aircraft maintainers and are accustomed to doing depot level work.

 “Working on C-5s makes you a very good structural mechanic because you are always busy fixing things that we were no longer able to get through the supply system due to the C-5’s age,” Teter said. “The heavy maintenance that these guys have been exposed to made them very good mechanics.”

He proposed that his shop, having plenty of experience, complete the repair on base under the advisement of the RAMS team who have experience in this particular repair.

Six ASM technicians worked on the repair, three on each shift for three weeks.

The repair was a tedious process. Hundreds of close-tolerance fasteners had to be removed to disassemble the jack support box fitting. Hydraulic lines, shelf brackets, and insulation also had to be removed. The disassembly was completed in about a week.

It took another week to fit and drill the new piece which did not come with pre-drilled pilot holes.

The final week was spent installing the new fitting and reinstalling the hydraulic lines, shelf brackets, and insulation.

“The aircraft returned to service fully mission capable with no restrictions, meaning it can take whatever missions are needed,” Teter said.

Aircraft structural maintainers are responsible for aircraft metal repair, tubing and cable fabrication, corrosion removal and treatment, aircraft paint and stencil application and aircraft inspections. They can also manufacture aircraft parts from blueprints and remove and replace multiple aircraft components and hardware.

Teter said he is fortunate to have a very seasoned, hard working group of guys that are always up for a challenge. 

“We have got to get out of the mindset that we call somebody else to fix our problems every time we have a big job because it's like everything, if you are not exposed to situations like this, you are never going to learn and get better,” Teter said.