Keeping aircraft mission capable requires a multitude of skills, equipment and Airmen able to perform proper maintenance at a moment’s notice.
Airmen assigned to the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron metals technology shop are metallurgists by trade and use a variety of advanced machinery to keep the fighter aircraft at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., mission ready.
“The aircraft metals technology section contributes to the future of airpower by providing disciplined and innovative maintenance approaches to support fifth generation combat aircraft and legacy airframes,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Burns, 56th EMS metals technology NCO in charge. “We also provide the same flexible approach to aircraft support equipment and aerospace ground equipment throughout the fighter squadrons.”
The metals technology shop is comprised of 14 active duty military, two Air Reserve technicians and six civilian employees. All members of the shop are trained to accomplish tasks ranging from welding, operating computer numeric controlled (CNC) machines to manufacturing complex parts.
“Our shop uses a variety of equipment in everyday operations,” Burns said. “We have several variants of welding machines, manual and computer operated lathes, milling machines, saws, grinders and drill presses to assist us in our repairs. We also have computer aided drafting and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software that allows us to program and run our three and five axis CNC machines.”
On any given day, the metals technology shop Airmen are working with their hands and using extreme precision to solve delicate problems keeping Luke’s aircraft and their support systems flying.
“We have two unique skillsets, machining and welding, that allow us to support a wide variety of maintenance requests,” Burns said. “We work closely with each squadron to provide the expertise required to keep our aircraft mission capable.”
Airmen in metals technology deal with a wide variety of metals and other materials such as phenolic, nylon, delrin and rubber, explained Burns. There are no limitations with the material they are required to work with but typical repairs consist of aluminum, titanium, steel or stainless steel.
“Our mission is to provide safe and reliable maintenance to continue building the future of airpower.”