By Airman 1st Class Kevin Sommer Giron, 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 17, 2017
Staff Sgt. Christopher Lahey, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Structural Maintenance craftsman, and his team repaired a leading edge for a C-130J back wing May 9, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The structural Airmen performed a high-level repair which made an aircraft serviceable 270 days ahead of schedule. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Sommer Giron)
As the workhorse of the U.S. Air Force, the C-130 dominates
the open skies of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. However, the fleet shares
airspace with old feathery allies.
As spring begins, birds begin to migrate across the country.
During the season, the airways are bustling with activity, and the reality of collisions
between birds and aircraft are more prevalent.
Although there are programs, like the Bird/wildlife Aircraft
Strike Hazard program, which help reduce the number of bird strikes, accidents
When they do, the 19th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft
Structural Maintenance Airmen are tasked with repairing the C-130 airframe.
“We repair the physical damage to the aircraft’s
infrastructure,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Duffin, 19th AMXS Aircraft Structural
Maintenance Shop day shift lead. “From cracks to tears, we fix it all and
A recent collision challenged the structural Airmen to
perform a higher-level repair that would make an aircraft serviceable 270 days ahead
Their task was to create a leading edge for a horizontal
stabilizer from scratch, using Little Rock AFB resources and saving the base thousands
of dollars in repairs.
The leading edge is the front section of the C-130J back
wing. It’s a vital piece that allows aircraft to keep its lift during flight.
“This one was challenging because the horizontal stabilizer doesn’t
usually get hit,” Duffin said. “It’s harder to fix because it’s more compressed
then the wing.”
Due to the uncommon damage, ordering a replacement part would’ve
taken more than 250 days and cost over $150,000.
Despite the obstacle, the Airmen used their ingenuity and
initiative to build the essential piece and saved Little Rock AFB $127,000.
“We patched the outer layer of the structure and completely
remade the inner-skin of the part that allows gas to come through and keeps the
wing from icing over,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lahey, 19th AMXS Aircraft
Structural Maintenance craftsman. “We’ve never done anything to that shape or
that radius before which was challenging until we got the proper tools made
from the Aircraft Metals Technology shop.”
The structural Airmen worked closely with metals technology,
employing their resources and manpower to create new tools and strengthen the
structural integrity of the newly overhauled part.
Through a shared dedication for their work and 504 manhours,
the technicians restored the leading edge of a once unserviceable aircraft.