Robotic media blasting related to strip paint from fighter aircraft such because the F-16 Fighting Falcon has been round at Hill Air Force Base for greater than three many years. Now, the technology is getting used for the primary time to take away paint from the A-10 Thunderbolt II.
The 576th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is improving its conventional handbook media blast paint removing course through the use of new-generation robots to strip the paint from A-10s that come to the bottom for depot overhaul and upkeep. All planes require common exterior upkeep to guard their steel surfaces against corrosion attributable to moisture and the cruel environments wherein they regularly function.
The method is anticipated to scale back the person-hours it takes to strip paint from the plane and enhance security by eradicating staff from the blasting environment, leading to measurable time and price financial savings.
“There are going to be throughout-the-board enhancements together with a dramatic discount in publicity to a Hexavalent Chromium mud atmosphere. That is maybe the best profit to the robotic system,” mentioned Tim Randolph, 576th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director. “Financial savings can even be seen with lowered working time and less energy consumption, in addition to diminished prices in materials. We actually haven’t discovered a drawback to this method.”
James Gill, Corrosion Control flight chief for the 576th AMXS, stated whereas the standard guide media blast course is efficient, it’s labor-intensive, requiring teams of staff not less than three full days to finish.
The brand new paint-removing process is achieved by two robots, every with four hose attachments that transfer independently alongside either side of the plane. As well as the time to strip an A-10 is decreased from three days to 9-12 hours.
Along with the robotics course, a brand new laser-burn course is presently being examined and used on F-16s with confirmed success. Nevertheless, the squadron continues to be maturing the method and hopes to use this course to the A-10s sooner or later.
Through the use of new robotic technology, the squadron is increasing its capability by including functionality. Randolph mentioned every three processes have completely different capabilities, and inherent limitations, however, mixed collectively, can scale back the full time an aircraft spends in depot upkeep and helps return it to the warfighter sooner.