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Aircraft doctors: Non-Destructive testing keep aircraft flying, crews safe

Man pointing

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Broderick Henry, 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Non-Destructive tester inspector with the 402nd Maintenance Group explains the benefits of using computer radiography phosphorous film scan at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, July 29, 2020. The CR film process lessens the time an inspector is exposed to radiation and has a quicker turn-around time providing an image that can be enhanced to provide greater detail to the inspector. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joseph Mather)

Men working

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Broderick Henry and Vincent Jernigan, both 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Non-Destructive tester inspectors with the 402nd Maintenance Group show the various pieces of equipment that work with the 40 degree Lorad tube head at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, July 29, 2020. 40 degree Lorad tube head can be used to expose both phosphorous film and conventional film to provide an x-ray image. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joseph Mather)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- --

When we’re sick we go to the doctor for a diagnosis but where do aircraft go for unseen issues? Aircraft at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia go to the 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron non-destructive inspection office with the 402nd Maintenance Group for their diagnosis.

Men working
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- George Edwards (right), 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Non-Destructive trainee, Vincent Jernigan (center), 558th AMXS Non-destructive tester inspector and Mark Hease, 558th AMXS Non-destructive technician, all with the 402nd Maintenance Group, document readings from a eddy current rotary fastener hole at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, July 30, 2020. The NDI team provides this information to engineers and maintenance workers to make necessary repairs during aircraft depot level maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joseph Mather)
Men working
Aircraft doctors: Non-Destructive testing keep aircraft flying, crews safe
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- George Edwards (right), 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Non-Destructive trainee, Vincent Jernigan (center), 558th AMXS Non-destructive tester inspector and Mark Hease, 558th AMXS Non-destructive technician, all with the 402nd Maintenance Group, document readings from a eddy current rotary fastener hole at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, July 30, 2020. The NDI team provides this information to engineers and maintenance workers to make necessary repairs during aircraft depot level maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joseph Mather)
Photo By: Joseph Mather
VIRIN: 200730-F-ED303-1003
“Each aircraft arriving to Robins Air Force Base for depot level maintenance is in-processed to the base and receives a package describing the type of work to be completed on that aircraft,” said Vincent Jernigan, 558th Air Maintenance Squadron Non-destructive tester inspector. “Each package has an entire section of NDI testing that has to be performed to each particular weapon system.”

Once the aircraft is ready the NDI team is called.

“Metaphorically when people ask me what I do, I say it is like when you go to the doctor,” said Broderick Henry, 558th AMXS Non-Destructive tester inspector. “The doctor might run tests like what we do on the aircraft here. The doctor might inject a dye in you - that is the liquid penetrant we use on aircraft. When they put you in a MRI - that is our mag particle. When they do an x-ray or an ultrasound - we do all that. We are the doctors of the aircraft.”

The various tests pinpoint damage to be repaired.

“The NDI process gives exact location information of a defect to engineers and maintenance workers with minimal invasiveness to the aircraft,” said Henry.

Like visiting a doctor’s office, the NDI team use various procedures to provide information to engineers and maintenance workers.

“We provide that information by using five disciplines and through instrumentation,” said Henry.  “The five disciplines are liquid penetrant, mag particle, eddy current, ultrasound and x-rays.”

Each one of these disciplines provide instant feedback to the NDI tester.

Man and women working
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Wesley Harris, 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Non-Destructive Inspection work lead and Lindsey Gilley, Non-Destructive technician document their Non-Destructive Inspection finding at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, July 30, 2020. Each item inspected is tracked with each aircraft that receives depot level maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joseph Mather)
Man and women working
Aircraft doctors: Non-Destructive testing keep aircraft flying, crews safe
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Wesley Harris, 558th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Non-Destructive Inspection work lead and Lindsey Gilley, Non-Destructive technician document their Non-Destructive Inspection finding at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, July 30, 2020. Each item inspected is tracked with each aircraft that receives depot level maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joseph Mather)
Photo By: Joseph Mather
VIRIN: 200730-F-ED303-1004
“It may take the procedure a couple of days for us to complete start to finish,” said Henry. “It varies due to the inspection being used, but all of our procedures provide instant feedback.”

The NDI process provides essential information needed on each aircrafts depot level maintenance process.

“We give structural information in terms of structural integrity of the aircraft,” said Henry. “We provide information back to anyone who needs it in order to minimize the breaking down of the aircraft that come here for scheduled maintenance.”

The aircraft receiving depot level maintenance benefit from the NDI process.

“It prolongs the life of the aircraft performing NDI’s with all the methods we have, and it keeps the people and aircrew who operate the aircraft safe,” said Jernigan.

The NDI process is vital to the Air Force sustainment mission.

“It is necessary because it reduces cost, it gives the warfighter a sense of security, and it gives data that is tracked with the aircraft,” said Henry.

The NDI team members are devoted to their mission

“I know it is part of my life legacy and I am devoted to making those aircraft fly,” said Henry.

Jernigan agreed.

“I work on F-15 mostly,” he said. “I love the F-15 and when I see that aircraft take off, I’m a happy camper. I feel good because I know I worked on that plane.”