97 AMW Shows Innovation During Corrosion Inspection

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Jeremy Wentworth
  • 97 AMW/PA

When a car hits certain milestones, it is recommended to get a mechanic to take a look at it even if the owner considers themselves a car expert. It goes without saying that the same is true for aircraft.

Altus AFB trains pilots, loadmasters and boom operators to work in every weather condition, exposing the aircraft to their share of severe weather. While being vulnerable to severe weather and the elements, equipment can experience water buildup in certain areas, leading to corrosion and damage.

Since these issues can impact mission readiness, the Air Force has the Air Force Corrosion Protection Office. AFCPO’s sole purpose is to examine aircraft for signs of corrosion, and they accomplish this by dispatching inspectors to see them first-hand.

“We look at a lot of the processes and chemicals that go on in maintenance,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Matthew Dowden, an Air Force corrosion manager assigned to AFCPO. “We have to make sure that everything that is done is qualified and see if we can find any trends in maintenance that we can pass off to the rest of the fleet across the Air Force.”

AFCPO sent a three-person team to Altus AFB to look at C-17 Globemaster III’s from August 20-23, 2018. The team closely examined the interior and exterior of aircraft not only to find corrosion, but to also see how the 97th Maintenance Group operates.

During their research, the AFCPO discovered just how innovative Altus can be, and they will pass that information on to other bases.

“We look for innovation wherever we go; something that one base is doing that doesn’t happen anywhere else,” said Daniel Mars, a research corrosion analyst assigned to AFCPO.

In this instance, the 97th MXG constructed a metal holding device to assist in landing gear door repairs and AFCPO took notice.

“They created this large jig to be able to trim a new landing gear door in an hour, where normally it takes multiple hours and it’s difficult to get it accurate,” said Mars. “The setup they have makes it so it fits perfect first time, every time.”

While investigating, AFCPO uses their experts to find precursors to corrosion and prevent it.

“Areas of standing water are a pretty typical cause [of corrosion] on C-17s,” said Dowden. “Hidden areas can pile up standing water and start generating corrosion. We come and check those areas and show mechanics how to keep it from piling up again and how to keep those areas clean.”

During the trip, AFCPO worked to help develop the 97th MXG’s capabilities as a maintenance force, both in repairing and preventing possible issues, by encouraging diligence and innovation in their field.

From driving a car to flying a plane, regular maintenance and a second set of eyes can find things that may be overlooked. The Air Force’s dedication to safety and readiness, combined with the commitment to excellence of the 97th MXG is what keeps Altus AFB students safe while flying; helps accomplish Altus’ mission of developing and sustaining global mobility; and eventually could see the innovative solutions of the MXG in hangars all over the Air Force.