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Non-destructive inspections Airmen see the unseeable, keep KC-135 flying

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick Torres, 92nd Maintenance Group non-destructive inspection technician, prepares a rod to magnetically test a product on Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Sept. 5, 2019. Magnets are one of six methods used to detect cracks and weakened spots on aircraft parts, potential issues that other maintenance career fields would not be able to identify without taking the KC-135 apart. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick Torres, 92nd Maintenance Group non-destructive inspection technician, prepares a rod to magnetically test a product on Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Sept. 5, 2019. Magnets are one of six methods used to detect cracks and weakened spots on aircraft parts, potential issues that other maintenance career fields would not be able to identify without taking the KC-135 apart. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick Torres, 92nd Maintenance Group non-destructive inspection technician, tests a piece of metal with a magnetic machine to see if it detects holes through the metal at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Sept 9, 2019. 
The material tested will show a neon line across the top if magnets indicate there is a hole in the piece of material being tested. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick Torres, 92nd Maintenance Group non-destructive inspection technician, tests a piece of metal with a magnetic machine to see if it detects holes through the metal at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Sept 9, 2019. The material tested will show a neon line across the top if magnets indicate there is a hole in the piece of material being tested. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kiaundra Miller)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --

A miniscule crack not visible to the human eye glows neon-green on an aircraft part while an Airman shines a black light on it, making it suddenly visible during a non-destructive inspection.

 

Airmen from the 92nd Maintenance Squadron NDI section are unique from other career fields because they use six different techniques to inspect aircraft parts without taking them apart, saving time while ensuring aircraft are safe. NDI methods include ultrasonic waves, fluorescent penetrant, magnetic particle inspection, radiography and eddy current to inspect aircraft parts for cracks, weak spots and many more issues.

 

“[We’re] important because we do non-destructive inspections,” said Tech Sgt Kevin Scott, 92nd MXS NDI section chief. “[Other sections] have to take the airplane apart. Our methods are less invasive because we can look inside of things without taking them apart.”

 

Team Fairchild is scheduled to begin receiving 12 additional KC-135s this month, and it is imperative that all tankers  be ready to fuel missions around the globe to compete, deter and win against adversaries. NDI ensures this is possible by using their technology and resources to detect imperfections before they become larger problems. 

 

“We find cracks that are not visible by looking at them [with our technology],” said Senior Airman Robert Oviedo,

92nd MXS NDI journeyman “We’re there to find the unseeable and catch things that you can’t see with the eye.”

 

NDI maintains the longevity of Team Fairchild’s KC-135s that are expected to stay in the Air Force inventory for decades to come.

 

“The tankers are getting older,” Scott said. “The importance of our job is keeping an eye out for those areas of the aircraft that are aging or corroding, and in turn, that helps keep them available longer.”

 

NDI Airmen keep Fairchild’s KC-135 fleet prepared to enable Rapid Global Mobility. Whether the mission be air refueling, aeromedical evacuation or airlift, Team Fairchild’s Airmen and aircraft are ready.