MacDill Airmen maintain structural integrity of aircraft

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rito Smith
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

When it comes to maintaining the structural integrity of our aircraft at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, it takes the hard work of the fabrication flight to keep our aircraft mission capable.

Aircraft structural maintenance, also known as sheet metal, is one section of the fabrication flight that specializes in repairing and replacing parts as well as maintaining corrosion control surfaces.

“As far as the structural component goes, we basically fix anything made of sheet metal,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Caldwell, an aircraft structural maintenance shift leader assigned to the 6th Maintenance Squadron. “When it comes to corrosion control we have to rely on inspections done by ourselves or the crew chiefs in order to identify and fix the corrosion before it becomes a bigger issue.”

Sheet metal Airmen need to constantly communicate with other flight-line maintainers to ensure everyone is on the same page about inspection, preparation, deconstruction and repair times for every job.

“One of the biggest things we need to do is be able break down our timeline for each job and be confident enough to pass that up the chain of command,” said Caldwell, “The last thing we want is for someone to ignore a grounding write-up for an aircraft because they don’t feel like they can communicate with leadership.”

Communication is crucial within the sheet metal shop.

“When we get called out to do a job, we need to know exactly what it is that they need,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Duke, an aircraft structural maintenance craftsman assigned to the 6th MXS. “If we don’t know exactly what they need then we can’t relay if we need a part moved or taken off in order for us to do our job.

If we can’t tell them exactly what we need to do for our job then we could cause the aircraft to be grounded longer than needed, therefore, hindering the mission.”

In addition to communication, every Airman needs to be well rounded with skills such as professionalism, and job knowledge to ensure they can get each unique job accomplished

“We stress the importance of our job, soaking up as much knowledge as possible and getting that experience level quickly to our new Airmen,  ,” said Caldwell. “They have the lives of the pilots and crew in their hands, and we need them to make the right decision and not second guess themselves.”

In order to train each new Airman to make those decisions, they bring younger Airmen with them to mentor and develop them.

“We have a very important job,” said Caldwell. “We make it a priority to teach our new Airmen as they come in how important we are to the mission and how much of an impact we can make.”