574th CMXS On-Aircraft Composite and Metal Bond Team: Keeps aircraft flying

  • Published
  • By Joseph Mather
  • Robins Public Affairs

Most aircraft going through program depot level maintenance with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, require fuselage repairs.

Like a car needing repairs after an accident, the 574th Commodities Maintenance Squadron On-Aircraft Composite and Metal Bond Team brings their crew to the aircraft for special repairs to holes in an aircraft’s structure.

This team is a very important component to WR-ALC and the overall mission, said James Jarrard, 574th Commodities Maintenance Squadron Composite Repair Flight director.

“The metal bond portion is more important to the older air-frames like the C-5 aircraft,” said Jarrard. “And the composite mission is important to the new air frame like the C-17 aircraft.”

The team has a back shop function and an on-aircraft function, said Earl Mann, 574th CMXS Production supervisor.

“We make on-aircraft composite and metal bond repairs to all the weapons systems at Robins,” he said.

Most of the time, the aircraft damage is a hole in the aircraft structure, said Mann.

“We will take a paste or film adhesive and put it with a piece of metal,” he said. “We then bond the metal with either the paste or film adhesive to make a patch to cover the area in need of repair.”

Mann said most of the adhesives used require an elevated temperature cure bond to attach a patch to an aircraft structure. Like using a slow cooking crock-pot, the temperature will determine how fast the patch will need to cook for the material to bond to the aircraft structure.

“The mechanic will monitor the cooker until it completes its process,” he said. “With a desired temperature of 250 degrees, the patch could take two to four hours, but if the temperature is lowered to 210 degrees, you have to add time to the cooker and the process could take up to six hours.”

Mann said once the process is complete, the mechanic does a 100% tap inspection to certify and confirm the bond worked correctly.

“When doing a tap test, a pitch change will occur when a despondent area is hit,” he said. “That pitch change would indicate damage in the area around the patch.”

If no damage is found, the team completes the task.

“This is an ‘I’ coded task, and two people have to be present to stamp, certify, and sign off that the patch came out good,” said Mann”

Jarrard said the team at Robins makes repairs globally.

“We have depot field support teams that travel around the world doing the same type work, because it’s highly specialized,” he said. “This requires them to perform maintenance in unusual and unfamiliar environments.”

To do this, Jarrard said his team looks out for each while performing these specialized tasks.

“They demonstrate a commitment to the Voluntary Protection Program by safety checking themselves and their teammates,” he said. “This wingman culture has resulted in many years of productive maintenance performed around the world, in austere conditions, without a recordable safety incident. I feel privileged to be a part of it.”