Good Catch: WR-ALC spots C-17 damage, turns plane ahead of schedule

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, made a good catch May 8, when it spotted damage on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at the end of its Programmed Depot Maintenance line, repairing the problem just days before it was due back to its home station.

The 574th Structural Repair Squadron, which is charged with repair of all on-aircraft metal bond and composite damage on areas that cannot be removed and routed to further support shops for repair, had just closed up shop when Daniel Dykes, Sheet Metal Mechanic supervisor in the 574 CMMXS, received a call that would change weekend plans for some in his shop.

“My shop got the call on Friday, May 8, from my technical advisor, Stephen Cook, saying that there was some damage to a C-17 located at functional test, which is the last stop in the PDM process for the plane to check functionality and to perform final inspection walk around. He said we needed to go check the damage as soon as possible because the plane is scheduled out May 13.”

Dykes said the process to determine a solution and make the repair of several small composite areas spotted during the aircraft’s functional test would normally take several days, including coordination with engineering and planning experts.

However, with no time to lose, the short-staffed squadron had to step up the process, which was a bit challenging.

“When a repair like this falls on a Friday after lunch, it usually is difficult to get completed under normal circumstances due to people already leaving for the week,” he said. “When you factor in the amount of people on COVID leave, it was particularly tricky.”

Due to the scope of the work being outside of typical repair limits, Dykes had to submit special paperwork to engineering asking for special repair instructions.

Before the paperwork can get to the engineer’s desk, it has to go through the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group’s Composite Planning Department.

“Due to all the planners being gone for the day, 402nd CMXG’s Composite Flight Lead Planner James Briley stayed late to make sure all the paperwork was correct and pushed it along to the engineering department,” Dykes said.

Dykes said Engineer Ed Hall, completed the necessary paperwork in record time to get it back to the sheet metal team so work could begin on the C-17.

The shop still faced the challenge of scheduling workers already off the clock to get the repair done.

“My crew consisting of Kathy Parham, Demetrius Davis, George Hickmon, and Chris Harvey, took it upon themselves to strategize and come up with a plan to stagger their shifts and work a two-shift operation on Saturday. If the repair went perfect, it would give them a chance to complete the job in one day so the flight crew wouldn’t be jeopardized in making their fly home date,” Dykes said. “Everything went flawless and my crew completed the repair late Saturday afternoon, May 9.”

In the end, the crew came through, getting the aircraft home with days to spare.

“The four mechanics that came together to make sure this C-17 got out on time is the most impressive factor in this whole process,” he said. “With a large portion of 402nd CMXG mechanics out on Coronavirus leave, morale and overall work ethic was at an all-time low. To have these four mechanics come together and strategize to keep this plane on schedule speaks of the true leadership and exemplary character these mechanics possess.