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920th aircraft structural maintenance shop accelerates change

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Darius Sostre-Miroir, 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
  • 920th Rescue Wing

When a bird struck the leading edge of one of the wing’s C-130J Combat King II aircraft during a flight the 920th Maintenance Squadron’s aircraft structural maintenance shop successfully repaired the damage and returned the aircraft to flying operations within two months; saving the wing more than 10,000 hours in maintenance and showcasing the maintenance group’s ability to accelerate change within the wing.

The ASM shop is a team of mechanics who are responsible for many services such as repair, treating and preventing corrosion, and painting the wing’s HH-60G Pave Hawk and HC-130J Combat King II aircraft.

During a routine sortie, an HC-130J was struck by a bird and the leading edge of the aircraft was damaged. In order to repair it a part was required to be ordered but the delivery date was scheduled to be over a year later. 

“The part ordered would take 500 days to be delivered so the ASM team decided to repair the leading edge themselves. Doing the repair at home station showcased ingenuity from the ASM team and resulted in a drastic decrease in the aircraft’s down time,” said Major Jaime Sciarrino, 920th MXS commander.

When replacement parts are not easily obtainable ASM will build them. They gather sheets of metal and then mold and bend them to the appropriate shape. They are then combined with other fashioned parts, shined, and delivered to be assembled. These structures create the inner and outer shell of the aircraft.

The ASM team successfully ordered and received the sheet metal needed for the leading edge repair. They then cut out the damaged area, and riveted in a new piece in its place. After just 63 days of work the piece of leading edge was fully repaired, polished, painted, and inspected.

After ensuring it would fit properly, the leading edge was delivered to the aircraft where they reattached it. The results of ASM’s forethought resulted in the wing saving millions of dollars and more than 10,000 hours in maintaining an aircraft that could not fly.

“Building that piece was the fastest and most efficient option. It gave our team a chance to use our expertise to make repairs and get the aircraft back in the air. This supports wing operations and allows aircraft to be ready to go whenever they are needed,” said Technical Sgt. Alexander Ferguson, ASM mechanic. 

ASM works closely with two other shops to keep all aircraft mission ready. They work with the metal tech shop whose primary responsibility is to melt and forge metal fittings for ASM to use in repairs. They also work closely with the nondestructive inspection shop who inspect the aircraft using powerful x-ray machines to examine small cracks or tears that need repair.

“This repair really shows these Airmen’s ability to make innovative decisions and execute sound leadership from all levels within the organization. No matter how maintenance intensive the job is, our Airmen are always demonstrating their ability to stay mission focused no matter what obstacles are put in front of them,” said Maj. Sciarrino.   

The wing will continue to utilize the ASM team’s ability to change the way the wing prepares for and executes repair in-shop; which will further advance mission readiness and return aircraft to duty in the shortest time possible in lockstep with Air Force chief of staff General Charles Q. Brown’s action order to accelerate change.