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19th MXS sheet metal shop validates new capability

  • Published
  • By Airman Julian Atkins
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Little Rock Air Force Base 19th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Structural Maintenance sheet metal shop recently acquired and validated the capabilities of their new Mobile Composite Room which is used to conduct composite repairs more safely and efficiently than before.

The room is used to repair composite materials such as graphite, aramid, and fiberglass, all of which are used in the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

“When it comes to doing composite repairs, there are stringent requirements that have to be met,” said Tech. Sgt. Zachary Johnson, 19th Maintenance Squadron wing corrosion manager. “When you're dealing with composite structures, especially during repairs, you're dealing with liquid matrix resins and stuff like that, which can't be contaminated. Otherwise, you could lower the structural integrity of that piece that you're trying to repair.”

According to Johnson, the Mobile Composite Room is a $30,000 addition to the team and was custom built for the shop, allowing for efficient use of space. The room is built like an “accordion,” so it can expand allowing larger parts to be repaired.

“In the past, we would write a waiver to do a composite repair in the sheet metal shop, but in a sheet metal shop, we sand and cut metal constantly,” Johnson said. “There's dust particles and metal particles that contaminate the air, and they can weave into the resin systems. It doesn't allow the resin to create the full structural bond as it should.”

By eliminating the need to route and process waiver requests to perform composite maintenance, the Mobile Composite Room is expected to save approximately 192 man-hours annually.

“Overall, the fumes released from the materials are contained inside the room and captured by the high efficiency particulate air filter,” Johnson said. “It creates a safer environment for Airmen by reducing carcinogenic particles in the air.”

With a shop comprised of active duty and civilian members conducting aircraft structural maintenance 24-hours a day on Air Mobility Commands largest C-130J fleet, the sheet metal shop, along with the corrosion shop work under aircraft structural maintenance umbrella as part of the fabrication flight for the 19th Airlift Wing. The flight also consists of the nondestructive inspection shop and the metals technology shop, which work together to ensure the C-130s remain operational. With the addition of the Mobile Composite Room, sheet metal Airmen are given a cleaner space in which they can work more efficiently and streamline C-130J repairs.