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Airmen use X-rays to keep aircraft in fight
Master Sgt. Chad Shipman, 51st Maintenance Squadron, looks at an X-ray photo of a broken aircraft part here March 24. The non-destructive inspection flight's job is to inspect support equipment, aircraft and weapon systems components for structural damage and flaws such as cracks, voids, heat damage and stress fractures. One method these Airmen use is X-ray radiation because some flaws are so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)
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Airmen use X-rays to keep aircraft in fight

Posted 4/3/2011   Updated 4/3/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/3/2011 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Flying and fixing airplanes is the 51st Fighter Wing's top priority, and the Airmen in the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's non-destructive inspection flight play a key role in that mission.

Their job is to inspect support equipment, aircraft and weapon systems components for structural damage and flaws such as cracks, voids, heat damage and stress fractures.

One method these Airmen use is X-ray radiation because some flaws are so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Senior Airman Jayson Clark, a non-destructive inspection journeyman, said their purpose is to find defects in the structural components of the aircraft and make sure when the aircraft are at 20,000 feet the key components are not going to come apart.

"My job is important because without us the aircraft could have catastrophic failures in flight," he said.

Senior Airman John Stevens, a non-destructive inspection journeyman, explained how X-rays were used to look for the defects in the metal and how any radiation that wasn't absorbed into the metal would actually be absorbed by their bodies.

He said they use detection devices to avoid unhealthy levels of exposure, and shielding for protection allowing them to still accomplish their mission.

"We have our survey meters to help protect us in areas where we're getting exposed when we're not aware of it," he said. "And we stay behind our lead doors to protect ourselves."

This type of radiation is not safe and has many hazards. Overexposure can lead to many health concerns and it's the bio-environmental flight here that keeps close watch on these radiation levels.

According to Staff Sgt. Elliot Wilkins, a bio-environmental engineering technician, it's important bio is making sure to document all the exposures, and keeping each exposure as low as reasonable so the maintenance teams can still perform their jobs.



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