Fab Flight is Fabulous

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katelynn Jackson
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron employs a unique multi-faceted approach to executing the aircraft maintenance mission at Luke Air Force Base. The fabrication flight is one of multiple flights dedicated to inspecting aircraft, precision structural repair, and producing support equipment necessary to keep Luke AFB’s jets in the air. 

“We manufacture, produce, and repair F-16 and F-35 parts to perfect the structural integrity of aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Ray Frederick, 56th EMS fabrication flight chief.

The fabrication flight is made up of over 120 personnel in 4 distinct sections, including Non-Destructive Inspections (NDI), Aircraft Metals Technology (AMT), Low Observable (LO), and Aircraft Structural Maintenance (ASM). 

The NDI division conducts flightline inspections to assess abnormalities not always visible to the human eye. Such inspections are crucial for identifying required maintenance to confirm an aircraft's structural integrity and keep jets in the air. 

“NDI examines the structure of the aircraft using different methods,” said Frederick. “Dye penetrant, ultrasonic inspections, X-ray, and other advanced technologies help us find cracks or defects within the structure of the aircraft.” 

NDI works to detect any found irregularities while the other three sections are then tasked with correcting them. 

Personnel working in the AMT section fabricate and repair aircraft apparatuses and provide additional support to supplemental projects using machinery and welding proficiencies. 

“We perform maintenance on and off the F-35s,” said Airman 1st Class Kamryn Giddings, a 56th EMS metals technology apprentice. “With our know-how, aircraft are repaired promptly and safely.” 

Another essential player in the task of ensuring aircraft’s mission capability is LO. 

The fifth-generation stealth capabilities of the F-35 are accredited to LO technology that makes it very difficult to detect, track, or target by radar with surface-to-air missiles or enemy aircraft. This makes the detail-oriented tasks accomplished by LO Airmen critical to mission success in enemy airspace. 

“Our low observable section maintains the outer-coating on the F-35 fleet, contributing to the jet’s stealth and combat readiness,” said Frederick. “They also perform audits to make sure that any damages in that LO coating are appropriately identified.” 

In addition to stealth upkeep, fabrication flight uses its advanced technology to further innovate and expand capabilities. 

“A lot of the technology that we work with allows us to come up with and establish new ways of repairing aircraft,” said Frederick. “Not only for Luke AFB, but also making parts for joint program office assets for other U.S. F-35 bases, the Marine Corps, and foreign partners.” 

The members of the 56th fabrication flight continually face new challenges; collaboration is necessary to overcome these obstacles and accomplish the mission. 

“FAB flight is the best flight,” said Giddings. “All the different sections here work together to complete a shared mission, creating an environment of teamwork and partnership that I look forward to working in every day.” 

The Fabrication Flight continues to foster cohesive teamwork, developing proficiencies and taking on new processes and projects that are instrumental to the 56th FW’s mission of training and developing the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen.