Flap shop maintainers proud to serve their country on the back line

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78th ABW/PA
Knowing your work can end up on the front line of the war against terror could motivate anyone, and the Robins flap shop is no exception.

Members of the flap shop team understand how important their maintenance work is to warfighters around the world because they know these C-130s are flying everyday as a part of the effort.

"We do all the C-130 (Hercules) center wing and outer wing flaps. They all go to supply and support the MISTR (Management of Items Subject to Repair) and then anybody around the world can get them that needs them," said Mike Odum, first-line supervisor for the flap shop.

However, as the war on terror continues, members of the flap shop are working hard to meet higher demands and new mission requirements.

The team of maintainers are preparing for new workloads expected to begin in 2009 where the existing workload of about 20 sets of flaps, which consist of two center wings and two outer wings, will increase each year to about 100 sets.

To help meet the future requirements, the shop is already hiring additional hands and working to lean their processes.

"We want to give the warfighter what he needs at the time when he needs it. While providing the best quality we can provide for the cheapest cost," Mr. Odum said.

Joe Collins, work leader in the flap shop, agreed the quality of each flap repaired is of the utmost importance and meeting the quality standard as fast as possible is their mission.

Mr. Collins is in charge of inspecting each flap and approving each job before sending the flap back to supply.

"If he (Mr. Collins) puts his stamp of approval on it, it's good to go," Mr. Odum said.

By the time a flap receives Mr. Collins' stamp of approval, the flap is ready to return to the warfighter in an improved condition.

Each flap goes through several stages of maintenance before the flap is ready to return to supply and support the Air Force mission once again.

When the flap arrives to the flap shop, members of the team drill it down and remove all the skins of the flap before sending it to Bldg. 180 to be cleaned and depainted, Mr. Odum said.

"We can't really see the corrosion until they clean and depaint," Mr. Wilder said.

Once it returns, the team starts the structural repairs and upgrades to the flap. The structural work requires that additional ribs and stiffeners be added and any corrosion, bends or brakes to the existing ribs or spars be replaced.

"If it is corroded, you can just break it off like a potato chip," Mr. Wilder said.

The structural repairs increase the thickness of the flap, which helps the flap perform better once reinstalled on a C-130.

"We are just beefing it up a little more," Mr. Wilder said.

After all the structural work is repaired it is sent back to Bldg. 180 to get primed on the inside.

The team then uses the old skin as a drill template to help them start drilling holes for the new skins. Then it is easier to place the new skin on the flap and continue drilling the holes. "Every skin has to be replaced. About nine skins total have to be replaced," Mr. Wilder said.

Then it goes back to Bldg. 180 for the final paint before returning to the shop for final touches, such as the last trailing edge skin. Once it is installed, the flap is checked for foreign-object damage, cleaned and sealed.

Members of the team are constantly trying to find leaner methods to complete the necessary repairs. One of the changes the future will bring is members of the flap shop team will soon no longer be required to manufacture their own skins for the flaps so the team can focus on installing the skins on the flaps.

Mr. Wilder said the responsibility of supplying parts to those fighting the war against terror makes all the maintainers take pride in each flap they repair.

"I'm not on the front line. I'm on the back line, but my job is important because they (those on the front line) are relying on us," said Mr. Wilder. "My job is to supply them with what they need to fight the War on Terror. We are in it for the long haul."