Critical F-16 repair accomplished while saving money

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Duane Duimstra
  • 114th Fighter Wing

The 114th Maintenance Group has been busy repairing canopy sill longerons, a critical part of the F-16s while saving the Air Force hundreds of thousands of dollars. The repair involved several shops that ranged from egress to non-destructive inspections.

The F-16’s canopy seal longerons hold the cockpit to the rest of the F-16.

“The process started back in 2014 where the cracks on the CSL were discovered which triggered hourly NDI inspections but they noticed that the cracks are becoming more common so a 50-hour inspection was implemented in 2015.” said Master Sgt. Josh Klundt, 114th Maintenance Squadron structural repair technician.

The repair is an intensive process that required several shops to take apart an F-16 by lifting the aircraft on jacks, removing the canopy, and several panels before being able to repair the CSLs.

“Electric shop, avionics, the crew chiefs, structural repair, and egress are just some of the shops that were involved,” said Klundt.

The maintenance group worked with engineers to certify two Airmen to perform the task of creating the new CSLs.

“The two certified Airmen have to drill over 300 holes, three different times with 10 different rivet sizes on each side of the F-16,” said Klundt. “One to drill and remove the old rivets, another time on the template to ensure they are in the correct spot and size, and finally on the new canopy sills.”

The normal repair process requires each F-16 wing to send their jets to the Air Force Depot center to get the CSL repairs done. It is a time consuming process that is also expensive.

By having 114th Airmen certified by an engineer and make the repairs on base, the 114th Fighter Wing saved the Air Force hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The normal repair process of sending the jet to the depot would normally cost $1.1 million dollars but by having an engineer come to us it only cost around $200k.,” said Klundt.

114th Maintenance Group leadership chose a plan to teach and certify Airmen to make the CSL repairs giving them the pride of knowing the jets are flying because of them while saving the Air Force hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Some bases don’t have the experience or willingness to give up the personnel to do this in depth repair, but luckily for us we have great leadership who supported us and trusted us to do it.” said Klundt.