NDI Airmen find cracks in the dark
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Senior Airman Kayla Hayes wipes the pipes clean, the first step in the magnetic particle inspection. Next, she showers the pipes with a magnetic particle solution. Lastly, when the pipes are charged and magnetized, she introduces a black light that reveals vivid gradients of greens and blues, checking to see if magnetic particles have attached to any potential cracks within the pipes.
The primary mission of the 374 NDI shop is to provide support to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the other maintenance sections to determine the serviceability of aircraft components and support equipment.
"Without NDI, unanticipated defects in aircraft and support parts would remain undetected, potentially leading to aircraft failure," said Staff Sgt. Eric Noah, 374 MXS NDI craftsman.
The NDI shop utilizes liquid penetrant, eddy current, magnetic particle, ultrasonic, x-ray and other minor inspection methods to inspect aircraft and support equipment. They meticulously follow written technical orders for every inspection, ensuring each test is effective.
"Our normal workload is determined by the needs of the flightline at any given moment," Noah said. "Outside of that, we perform daily process control."
Process control is a system by which aircraft and support equipment are tested on a scheduled timetable, helping to identify structural weaknesses and defects in parts before they fail.
The preventative maintenance tests ensure aircraft remain safe and reliable.
With such a large assortment of aircraft components and support equipment, NDI Airmen admitted that coming across a part they had never seen before was common occurrence.
"The most challenging part about my job is going out to an aircraft and being met with a part I've never tested before," said Senior Airman Kayla Hayes, 374 MXS NDI technician. "I overcome this by reading and then applying verbatim what the technical order for this part instructs me to do. Relying on the TO helps me get a better understanding of what the job is and also ensures that I'm doing it correctly."
Overcoming this challenge and knowing that their job directly impacts the mission is what NDI Airmen revealed as being their favorite part about their job.
"Without us, plane wouldn't fly," Noah said. "Our inspections are key in ensuring the safety of our aircraft and aircrew."