Skip to comments.Aircraft maintenance platoon searches for potentially dangerous cracks
Posted on 10/06/2005 6:04:55 PM PDT by SandRat
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Oct. 6, 2005) -- The CH-46 D/E Sea Knight helicopter is one of the Marine Corps most valuable assets, providing expedient transportation of critical cargo loads as well as providing troop transportation.
Because of the valuables these high-powered machines carry, as well as their importance in military efforts such as the Global War on Terrorism, inspections must be conducted continuously to ensure the safety of the passengers and crew. The Marines who conduct these inspections are called non-destructive inspections technicians. Their job is to perform non-destructive testing of various metals in aircraft structures and aircraft/engine components.
There are five tests that we do regularly to check for discrepancies in the different helicopter parts, said Staff Sgt. Tanner P. Morath, from Tucson, Ariz., the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 39 non-destructive inspections team. The tests we perform are liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, eddy current, ultrasound and radiation (X-ray) testing.
The Marines perform anywhere from 25 to 50 tests per day on various aircraft and components.
The most common test performed is liquid penetrant, which is done by using a fluorescent dye on various helicopter parts to detect surface-breaking flaws such as cracks, laps or folds.
Once the dye is applied to the part, a blacklight is used to locate where discrepancies, if any, are located. X-ray testing, though accurate, is used as little as possible due to the high levels of radiation it creates.
The X-rays we use are extremely powerful, more so than normal X-ray machines because were going through metal whereas the other kinds only penetrate flesh and bone, said Morath.
According to Morath, the most important test his Marines perform is the ultrasound, because it reveals internal discrepancies that cannot be discovered with the other tests.
Using an ultrasonic inspection machine, Marines can determine where certain problem areas may be by studying sound waves that bounce off any internal defects.
With two deployments to Iraq already under his belt, Morath takes pride in the work he and his fellow Marines do every day.
My favorite part of the job is knowing that I can contribute something to the Marine Corps that not everyone can do, said Morath.