Airmen make major repair, save AF money

(Bottom to top) Tech Sgt. Patrick Smith, Staff Sgt. Thomas Downward, Staff Sgt. Christopher Ortega, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Souza, Airman 1st Class Bryan Bowers and Staff Sgt. Ivan Sterpin, 347th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., completed depot-level maintenance Dec. 2 on a 347th Rescue Wing's HC-130P/N. They completed the repairs 20 days ahead of schedule saving the Air Force approximately $30,000. (Photo by Senior Airman S.I. Fielder)

(Bottom to top) Tech Sgt. Patrick Smith, Staff Sgt. Thomas Downward, Staff Sgt. Christopher Ortega, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Souza, Airman 1st Class Bryan Bowers and Staff Sgt. Ivan Sterpin, 347th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., completed depot-level maintenance Dec. 2 on a 347th Rescue Wing's HC-130P/N. They completed the repairs 20 days ahead of schedule saving the Air Force approximately $30,000. (Photo by Senior Airman S.I. Fielder)

MOODY AFB, Ga. -- Six Airmen assigned to the 347th Rescue Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., saved the Air Force approximately $30,000 by completing a major repair here on one of the wing’s HC-130P/Ns Dec. 2. 

Maintainers Tech. Sgt. Patrick Smith, Staff Sgts. Thomas Downward, Christopher Ortega, Nicholas Souza, Ivan Sterpin and Airman 1st Class Bryan Bowers completed the repair approximately 20 days ahead of schedule. 

The team found extensive corrosion damage to the ring segments near the aircraft’s troop doors, in the rear of the aircraft on each side. The ring segments are a part of the aircraft frame and are key structural supports that connect the aircraft’s tail to the body. 

“We went out to evaluate it and tried to clean the corrosion off, but it went too deep into the metal,” said Sergeant Smith. “It was beyond the allowable limits.” 

Normally this type of work is handed over to a depot level team, but the first available time to perform the maintenance was mid-December. 

The Airmen, however, received permission to perform the maintenance due to the extensive backlog of repairs. They were given a timeline of approximately 26 days to complete the repair of both ring segments, so the Airmen set a completion date of Jan. 10, 2006. 

“We were the only sheet metal Airmen to touch the project and this allowed everybody to be on the same page,” said Sergeant Souza. 

The team worked around the clock in order to complete the repair quickly. 

“Basically we don’t have that many planes out there,” said Sergeant Smith, “and we need to keep as many in the air as possible.” 

Through teamwork, the Airmen learned how to strip an aircraft down to the bare metal. 

“I think this gave us an inside look at depot-level maintenance,” said Sergeant Downward. “It showed us what our capabilities actually are.” 

Normally, due to time constraints and costs, the Airmen only perform field-level maintenance to keep aircraft flying. This repair gave the Airmen and their supervisors the confidence for future repairs at this level. 

“Doing a job like this, especially for our less-experienced people, allows them to remove any inhibitions they might have about accomplishing this level of maintenance,” said Sergeant Souza.