Instant fix: New tech repairs Air Force bomber in hours, not 8 weeks

An Air Force B-1B Lancer sits on the flightline at Orland Air Force Station, Norway, March 14, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell)

A team of experts from South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City has worked with members of America’s Air Force to deliver a fix that only took a few hours for a problem that using traditional repair methods would have taken eight weeks.

The Rapid City Journal outlined how there’s a 15,000-square-foot, first-of-its-kind facility at Ellsworth Air Force Base, just east of Rapid City.

There, the repair on the B-1 bomber was done. Using cold spray.

“This would have normally involved eight weeks of downtime,” explained Brian James, a graduate student from Mines and now a chief engineer with the 28th Maintenance Group. “With cold spray we were able to do this in a couple of hours.”

The new technology was used to repair a broken hinge on the fuselage of a B-1B Lancer.

The report from the Journal explained cold spray is a process that sprays metal microparticles onto a metal surface at very high velocities.

They stick to the targeted surface and form a dense coating, which then can be machined.

A B-1B Lancer pilot prepares to take off from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Feb. 21, 2021. The B-1 is capable of providing vast numbers of precision and non-precision bombs at any moment against any enemy, anywhere in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Josiah Brown)

In many situations, it is a usable repair procedure to restore worn or damaged aircraft parts.

Traditional repairs would have had experts hunting for spare parts from a salvaged bomber; a procedure that could have cost $500,000.

James told the Journal work on the repair procedures was begun more than a decade back, with research projects at Mines, which was focused on better ways to restore obsolete or legacy aircraft components.

It now is part of the toolbox at Ellsworth, where B-1s are housed.

James noted the Ellsworth process is a one-of-a-kind, and essentially is taking tech that’s been tested and putting it into “combat level” service immediately.

An Air Force B-1B Lancer takes off from ├śrland Air Force Station, Norway, March 14, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell)

Staff Sgt. Chynna Patterson, a machinist and welder assigned to the 28th Maintenance Squadron at Ellsworth, spent 10 years working on other aircraft like the A-10 Warthog.

“This technology allows us to maintain the aircraft in ways that would previously have been very time consuming and very expensive,” she told the Journal.

Content created by the WND News Center is available for re-publication without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].


This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

Related Posts