NDI, more than meets the eye

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Protective equipment hangs on the wall of the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection lab at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 6, 2020. Safety is priority for NDI Airmen when performing inspections on approximately 14,000 aircraft parts yearly in support of more than 100 Davis-Monthan aircraft. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)
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Thick plastic curtains drape over a small room. Once inside, darkness consumes it immediately. Suddenly, bright green and blue fluorescent colors reflect off aircraft parts waiting to be inspected for deficiencies undetectable to the naked eye.

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection lab inspects an aircraft component at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 6, 2020. The NDI team evaluates and interprets aircraft and equipment deficiencies undetectable to the naked eye. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

The nondestructive inspection lab assigned to the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., uses the room to help detect defects on aircraft equipment for various units.

The 30-Airman shop also uses other sections of their facility and the flight line to interpret and evaluate aircraft parts by either fluorescent penetrant, magnetic particle, ultrasonic testing, eddy current, oil analysis and x-ray methods.

“We use each of those methods to determine whether or not equipment have service-induced defects,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary Filson, 355th EMS NDI journeyman “We also verify the safety and structural integrity of aircraft and equipment.”

A special solution, containing iron, is poured onto magnetized aircraft equipment at the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection lab at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 6, 2020. The solution makes deficiencies detectable by seeping into cracks not visible to naked eye. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

Technicians inspect approximately 14,000 aircraft parts yearly in support of more than 100 Davis-Monthan aircraft; to include the A-10 Thunderbolt II, EC-130H Compass Call and HH-60G Pavehawk.

“Without NDI, it would be difficult to finish the mission here,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sharayah Zwierlein, 924th Maintenance Squadron NDI Air Reserve Technician. “We are here to protect pilots and the integrity of the aircraft.”

Not only does the shop keep Davis-Monthans’ finest resources safe, but also supports partners at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group and the Tucson Air National Guard 162nd Wing.

Aircraft equipment is inspected for cracks at the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection lab at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 6, 2020. The NDI team uses fluorescent penetrant, magnetic particle, ultrasonic, eddy current, oil analysis and x-ray methods to interpret and evaluate aircraft equipment defects. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

With the global COVID-19 pandemic, teamwork is vital for all Airmen and partnerships to accomplish the mission.

“We are like a big family here,” Filson said. “Day-to-day, we’ve been pushing it, putting in that extra time, but it is all about the safety and health of our family here and at home.”

One mission can be the difference in sustaining a ready and capable force. The NDI lab safeguards Davis-Monthans’ mission to provide rescue and attack capabilities and make sure its resources are running on all cylinders.

Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa
Inspected aircraft screws lay on a table at the 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection lab at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 6, 2020. The NDI lab inspects aircraft and equipment by use of fluorescent penetrant, magnetic particle, ultrasonic, eddy current, oil analysis and x-ray methods.
Airman 1st Class Zachary Filson, 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection journeyman, inspects aircraft equipment for cracks at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 6, 2020. The NDI lab evaluates and interprets aircraft and equipment deficiencies undetectable to the naked eye. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)
Airman 1st Class Zachary Filson, 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection journeyman, sanitizes protective equipment at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 6, 2020. Filson inspects aircraft and equipment for deficiencies on a daily basis. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)
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