FAB-ulous: 6th AMW fabrication flight makes it from scratch

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
  • 6th Air Mobility WIng Public Affairs
At a time when Department of Defense budgets are under the microscope, each organization must come up with new and resourceful ways to continue the mission with limited manning and assets.

For the members of the 6th Air mobility Wing's fabrication flight, this new and resourceful mindset led to the savings of thousands of dollars and months of material production time, all while delivering a plentiful
stock.

Tasked with coming up with a way to reproduce two mission-essential KC-135 parts was Staff Sgt. Michael Johnson, 6th Maintenance Squadron metals technician, who is no novice when it comes to recreating parts.

"Our shop was contacted by the maintainers of the KC-135 asking us if it was possible to make replacement covelip door latches and hinge fitting assembly flap clearance ribs," said Johnson. "Being that this type of fabrication is what we are trained to do, I knew exactly what needed to be done in order for the recreation."

Johnson, with help from other 6th MXS metals technicians, was able to track down part-specific blueprints using a database called the Joint Engineering Data Management Information and Control System.

From there he was able to program the blueprint files into a computer numerical control machine, which takes coded alphanumeric data and precisely manufactures parts through controlled cuts.

"After we finished the parts and made sure that they were 100 percent manufacturer accurate, we restocked our local supply system and made a few calls to other 135 bases," said Johnson. "Come to find out, the same parts that we were manufacturing were also out of stock and in high demand at their bases as well; so we made extras and sent them out to all the bases that needed them."

Because of the expertise of Johnson and the members of the 6th MXS fabrication flight, a cost savings of 81 percent was saved from manufacturer cost.

"The hinges alone were a tremendous savings," said Johnson. "There are two of these per aircraft and each costs $2,060.19 from the manufacturer; the cost for me to make one in-house is only $167.50."

For Johnson, the fulfillment he gets from saving the Air Force time and money, as well as being able to use a very defined skill set, is ever-apparent in his work.

"Manufacturing parts from billet material to keep our jets in the air is definitely a rewarding feeling," said Johnson. "Without our knowledge and expertise, Air Force aircraft would see far less time in the air and more time sitting on the flightline not being utilized."

This was just one of the many instances showcasing how the members of the 6th MXS fabrication flight are constantly making the mission a possibility through their technical prowess.