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92nd MXS innovates bracket essential to extending KC-135 lifespan

jack-screw mounting brackets

Two jack-screw mounting brackets for a KC-135 Stratotanker are displayed by the 92nd Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology flight during a demonstration at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Nov. 19, 2020. The 92nd Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology shop, created a jack-screw mounting bracket for the KC-135 Stratotanker after the discovery of a damaged bracket during a routine inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lawrence Sena)

presenting a jack-screw bracket

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eric Kozma, 92nd Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Metals Technology flight section chief, presents a jack-screw bracket for a KC-135 Stratotanker to Col. Cassius Bentley, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Nov. 19, 2020. Through the innovations and actions of the 92nd MXS aircraft metals technology Airmen, Team Fairchild can continue to ensure the revitalization of the KC-135 fleet and success of the Rapid Global Mobility mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lawrence Sena)

milling machine demo

A jack-screw bracket for a KC-135 Stratotanker is displayed inside a metals milling machine during a demonstration at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Nov. 19, 2020. Rather than using the outdated process to create the bracket, 92nd Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology Airmen used their training and expertise to design a 3D model of the bracket, and program a milling machine to create the first prototype. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lawrence Sena)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --

The 92nd Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology shop, created a jackscrew mounting bracket for the KC-135 Stratotanker after the discovery of a damaged bracket during a routine inspection.

 

Tech Sgt. Robert Sabins, 92nd Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology section chief, and Tech Sgt. Eric Kozma, 92nd MXS aircraft metals technology shift lead, were tasked by the reverse engineering team at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, with designing and building a new bracket from the ground up.

 

 “Back in January, they [maintainers] found a cracked bracket,” Sabins said. “We got one in from supply and that one didn’t work out, because these brackets are very specific. Back in the ‘50s when they designed the aircraft and started building them, they drilled the holes in the bracket by hand.”

 

The blueprints available for the bracket are from 1954, and used an outdated Magnesium casting process. Rather than using the outdated process to create the bracket, Sabins, Kozma and fellow metals shop Airmen, used their training and expertise to design a 3D model of the bracket and program a milling machine to create the first prototype.

 

 “I used Computer Aided Design software to look at the blueprints and take all of those measurements to draw the bracket in 3D on my computer,” Sabins said. “Then the Computer Aided Manufacturer software communicates with the Computer Numerically Controlled milling machine. The software spits out numbers and coordinates to tell the machine where to cut on the block of metal so it’ll end up matching what it looks like on the computer.”

 

After five months of working to create the first prototype, the bracket is now installed and awaiting testing. Once the aircraft has flown with the bracket, the aircraft metals technology team will be able to generate more brackets, saving the fleet of KC-135s from the aircraft boneyard.

 

“We now have a proven program,” Kozma said. “Once the operations check and confidence flight happens, we have another chunk of metal ready to pump out another bracket, which will now only take about six days to make.”

 

Through the innovations and actions of the 92nd MXS aircraft metals technology Airmen, Team Fairchild can continue to ensure the revitalization of the KC-135 fleet and success of the Rapid Global Mobility mission.

 

“Thanks to the teamwork of our aircraft metals technology section technicians, the KC-135 systems program office engineers and our partners at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, we are able to solve this extremely complex problem,” said Col. Michael O’Connor, 92nd Maintenance Group commander. “Our success in manufacturing a replacement jackscrew mounting bracket at the local levels filled a crucial supply need and will extend our KC-135s lifespan.”