F-15 Eagle gets a new wing for the New Year

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Shelly Davison
  • 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
For members of the 142nd Maintenance Group's Non Destructive Laboratory (NDI) shop, performing Individual Aircraft Tracking (IAT) inspections keeps the F-15C fleet at the top of their game.

Depending on the determined life expectancy of specific parts, inspections are scheduled on an hourly and/or calendar basis. When an IAT inspection is performed, it is tracked, documented, and a determination is made regarding the next inspection period. If a crack is discovered, the location and orientation is determined, the information is then sent to Robins Air Force Base engineering to provide a disposition regarding repairs that might be required. 

In some cases engineers recommend monitoring the defect rather than repairing. This was not the case for the 142nd Fighter Wing's F-15C Eagle, Aircraft 78-0482, she required a new wing. 

"NDI discovered a crack about a month ago while performing the scheduled IAT inspection. After receiving a disposition back, we contacted depot immediately," said Colonel Christopher Lantagne, 142nd Maintenance Group commander. "We were happy to hear that a wing and the Depot Field Team (DFT) were coming between the holidays, something that from my experience is difficult to get."

Immediately the 142nd Maintenance Squadron Structural shop worked with the engineering disposition and with Robins Air Force Base engineers to come up with a replacement plan. Several members of the 142nd Maintenance Group including crew chiefs and back shop specialists immediately got to work, and prepared the wing to be removed prior to the arrival of the DFT, who would be performing the swap.

The DFT from the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., arrived in record time with the new wing and seven mechanics, consisting of crew chiefs, aircraft sheet metal, aircraft fuel system, and aircraft electrical/environmental system specialists. 

The mission of the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group is to provide Programmed Depot Maintenance and unscheduled repair activities on F-15, C-130, C-5 and C-17 aircraft. They are responsible for the repair, modification, reclamation and rework of more than 200 aircraft worldwide. In addition, they prepare and deploy combat Aircraft Battle Damage Repair, crash recovery, supply and transportation teams worldwide.

"It was remarkable how quickly depot was able to get a replacement wing and DFT to us, especially considering the holiday season. On the first day of the team arrival, the wing was off and on the second day the new wing was on," Lantagne stated. 

A normal F-15C wing change can take 10 to 12 work days. The DFT performed this change in seven days, cutting the aircraft down-time by at least three days and reducing man-hours from 672 hours to 528 hours.

Lantagne also remarked, "With aircraft availability always being a limiting factor in production, structural fatigue is a major concern. Our maintainers identified a crack in the wing, which immediately grounded the jet. Normally it would take six to nine months of down-time to get it repaired. Because of the professional Airmen of the 142nd Maintenance Group, who were responsible for identifying and communicating our immediate needs, and the cooperation and teamwork of the DFT, this jet was only down about a month." 

Thanks to the dedication of the 142nd Maintenance Group, and the 402nd Depot Field Team, F-15 Eagle 78-0482, started the New Year in flight from the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., Jan. 3, 2017.