Air Force

July 13, 2012

NDI technicians’ integrity works

Senior Airman Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Stephanie Zvonik, 57th MXG CSC, NDI Aircraft Mechanic I inspects an aircraft component closely using a microscope. NDI technicians use microscopes to closely inspect materials for faults.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Technicians of the Nellis Non-Destructive Inspection Laboratory demonstrate “Integrity First” each and every day while performing potentially lifesaving inspections that ensure mission completion.

NDI is the examination of an object or material with technology that does not affect its future usefulness. Because it allows inspection without interfering with a product’s intended use, NDI provides an excellent balance between quality control and cost-effectiveness.

NDI lab technicians are required to perform quality and performance checks on aircraft components. The inspectors look for, cracks, breaks, distortions, and wear in the material. This process ensures faulty parts receive the proper repair or replacement needed before being returned to operational status.

“It’s all about making sure parts are good to go, are not cracked, with the end game being that it makes the aircraft safe,” said Charles Duke, Computer Science Corporation NDI Aircraft Mechanic II. “I love seeing the aircraft take off, especially after we’ve worked on one.”

CSC performs the majority of all backshop maintenance under contract for the 57th Maintenance Group.

Inspections performed by NDI lab technicians include, Fluorescent Dye Penetrant, Magnetic Particle, Eddy Current, Radiographic Inspection (Digital and Conventional Film), Ultrasonic Inspection, Spectrometric Fluid Analysis and Scanning Electron Microscope/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Inspection.

Utilizing their variety of inspections NDI technicians note the physical status of inspected material and send their findings to the appropriate units.

“The units make the determination on what to do with the parts,” Duke said. “They have the inspection criteria in their (Technical Orders), for what they need to do. We don’t make any serviceability determinations, we just tell them, ‘Yes, it’s cracked. No, it’s not cracked.’ From there, they’ll go back, look in their T.O. and make the determination. Some parts with welds can go back and be ground out, re-welded and then brought back to us to make sure the new weld is good.”

Repeat inspections do increase the workload, but it’s really just dependent on the Aircraft workloads, Duke said. The NDI Lab’s workload varies from week to week depending on Aircraft workloads, said Stephanie Zvonik, CSC NDI Aircraft Mechanic I. The NDI Lab can process between two to 200 parts a week. NDI technicians know, repeat inspections and fluctuating workloads are part of the job, but that’s an aspect they said they enjoy.

“It’s about the integrity part of the job – knowing that you are doing something that’s really important to the Air Force and the fact that your job has a lot of pull on the lives of the pilots and the integrity of the aircraft itself,” Zvonik said.

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