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Corrosion shop Airmen pioneer Air Force maintenance method

Man stands in front of plane holding pressure washer.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rosallon, 19th Maintenance Squadron corrosion control production supervisor, shows the new pressure washer of the 19th MXS corrosion shop used to remove the belly tape of C-130Js at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 27, 2019. The pressure washer replaced the outdated version of tape removal that was friction-based and could take days to complete. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Hand reaches down to pick pressure washer nozzle off of ground.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rosallon, 19th Maintenance Squadron corrosion control production supervisor, reaches for a pressure washer at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 27, 2019. The pressure washer is a new addition to the corrosion shop and is meant to perform impact-resistant tape removal on the bottom of C-130Js. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Two men put on protective suits.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rosallon, 19th Maintenance Squadron corrosion control production supervisor, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tyler Deere, 19th MXS aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, don their personal protective equipment before using a pressure washer at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 27, 2019. The protective suits include a layer of Kevlar for additional safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Man uses pressure washer on underside of plane.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rosallon, 19th Maintenance Squadron corrosion control production supervisor, uses a pressure washer to remove the belly tape of a C-130J at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 27, 2019. The pressure washer is capable of shooting water at 40,000 pounds per square inch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Man pick pressure washer off of ground.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rosallon, 19th Maintenance Squadron corrosion control production supervisor, picks up a pressure washer to remove the belly tape of a C-130J at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 27, 2019. The pressure washer utilizes a dual-trigger function to ensure the safety of the user. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Water, accompanied by a thunderous roar, rips C-130J impact-resistant belly tape at 20,000 pounds per square inch on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, March 27, 2019.

After eliminating several feet of tape across the underside of the aircraft, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dennis Williams, 19th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance craftsman, turns off the water and looks at his progress. He sees bare metal that would have been far more difficult to reach a few weeks before.

The 19th MXS corrosion shop recently instituted the use of a pressure washer capable of shooting water up to 40,000 psi for the removal of belly tape. The tape is designed to reduce the impact of foreign objects to the underside of C-130Js, thereby saving the Air Force approximately $10,000 per aircraft before they’re sent off for scheduled, heavy maintenance.

“This would have been considered a specialized level of maintenance before, but now we’re able to do it right here in-house,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dennis Williams, 19th MXS aircraft structural maintenance craftsman. “We’re the first field-level maintenance team to be using this machine to remove the belly tape before it’s sent off for scheduled maintenance.”

Pioneering the use of this pressure washer at such a low level means 19th MXS Airmen are currently working with different shops to construct the guidelines that will be used by Airmen benefitting from its implementation far into the future. Using this new procedure to remove the belly tape also results in a safer working environment for the Airmen involved.

“It’s friendlier to the user because all of the contaminants are trapped in the water,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Rollason, 19th MXS corrosion control production supervisor. “With the other method it was airborne and would require a respirator, but now we just need a protective suit and a face shield for the water.”

Maintaining a safer level of work for Airmen is paramount, but other aspects of the mission to consider are the time, manpower and money saved by employing this new method of tape removal. The older method involved a handheld rubber wheel designed to tear away the tape and epoxy on the aircraft. This took many more hours and required more preparation than the pressure washer.

“Removing the belly tape before this was a monumental task,” Rollason said. “The process was friction-based and could take days to clear a couple feet, compared to now when it can be done in a few hours.”

Corrosion shop Airmen are looking for additional uses for the pressure washer as they learn the capabilities of the device. The new pressure washer system will hopefully lead to a faster, smarter Air Force for tomorrow’s Airmen.

“I’ve probably only touched the tip of the iceberg with this machine,” Willliams said. “It opens a lot of doors.”

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