X-ray, NDI work one-of-a-kind at Robins

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
There are things that can't be seen on the surface.

An undetected flaw on an aircraft wing is one example. It's a reality that can have consequences, so that's where nondestructive testing inspections play a role in keeping lives and vital assets safe.

Equipment used for NDI and X-ray work is managed here at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex - the only one within the Air Force Sustainment Center.

A self-contained, lead-lined test chamber for X-ray in Bldg. 321 simulates and validates that equipment - high voltage stacks assembled inside tube heads and the matching X-ray control units - are fully functioning when used by testers in the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group and 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group.

Think of these stacks and control units as sophisticated Industrial X-ray machines, which can shoot and take pictures through pretty thick substances to detect cracks, water leaks, etc., of various aircraft parts.

"It's definitely an advantage performing the repairs on site, where you can save three or four months getting equipment back to the customer," said Karl Zimmer, 402nd Maintenance Support Group Electronic Industrial Control Mechanic. "Many times we can do repairs with less than a day turn around."

Since 2011, a total of eight control units have been repaired here, along with 20 tube heads. These tube heads - large green canisters - hold the brains of the X-ray machine and the high voltage stacks.

Sometimes a glass tube inside can get shattered, or diodes and transformers can burn out, so they must be repaired as well. Once the unit is re-assembled, it's tested in the simulation chamber before it's returned to the customer. The stack can take 20 volts and generate it into 20,000 volts of power.

While the equipment is heavily used on weapons systems maintained at Robins, having them maintained nearby saves on shipping costs, and aircraft downtime is lessened.

Also because most of the internal electronic and electrical components are solid state devices, the units are very reliable and maintenance friendly.