KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 8th Maintenance Squadron (MXS) nondestructive inspection (NDI) shop is responsible for ensuring the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft and its parts are of sound structure by identifying wear and tear before maintenance is necessary.
"We inspect things nondestructively by checking the structural integrity," said Staff Sgt. James Douglas, 8th MXS NDI craftsman. "We look for cracks to make sure that something isn’t going to break in flight. We take the known breaking point and we basically backtrack from there."
NDI has six different inspection methods: x-rays, magnetic particle, florescent dye penetrant, eddy current, ultrasound and lastly, joint oil analysis.
These six methods allow NDI to check a range of parts, from whole aircraft on the flight line to individual aircraft components, such as nose landing gear, wing tip ribs, canopy sill longerons, and even the heavy equipment hooks used by the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron.
"We make sure a parts aren’t just going to fly off because there are cracks going through all of the rivets or fasteners," said Staff Sgt. Chance Landers, 8th MXS NDI craftsman. “We inspect for cracks on the surface of any given part or major structure to ensure the aircraft is safe for the pilot and aircrew.”
Parts can be brought into the shop to be analyzed and repaired. If a part cannot be brought to the shop, such as an aircraft, NDI dispatches a specialized vehicle onto the flight line to conduct necessary inspections.
"We have a mobile x-ray truck that can be used to x-ray things that are not able to be brought into the shop for inspection," said Landers. "We take the x-ray system out, place the film, shoot it just like how you would see at the dentist office, then we bring that film back to process it."
Overall, their mission to inspect for cracks in aircrafts and their components makes NDI critical for ensuring the safety of the Wolf Pack’s aircrafts and pilots.