Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas — New developments, cutting-edge tech and advances in virtual interactive technology are helping skilled artisans take aging helicopters and transform them into elite flying machines packed with maximum capabilities.
The addition of the eDrill to the arsenal of tools an artisan has at their disposal has drastically changed the game in the disassembly portion of aircraft recapitalization at the Depot, providing a step increase in efficiency and accuracy for airframe repair.
The hand-held drills were a special order. The commercial sector uses larger permanently fixed three-axis machines, utilized by international customers overseas.
One of the most tedious tasks during the disassembly of an aircraft is the removal of the outer skin covering attached to the frame. There are thousands of fasteners and rivets that hold an aircraft together. Every single fastener must be removed by hand-one at a time.
Each time a fastener is removed, the paint surrounding the head and stem is disturbed, fractured and flaked. This disturbance sends micro particles into the air in the cabin of the aircraft and onto other surfaces in the work space.
The unlikely combination of an electric charge and a grounded water line gives the specialized eDrill tool – that is widely used in the commercial aircraft industry – the power to remove the pin of the fastener with an arc circuit jolt of electricity.
The stem falls away and with a quick tap of a mallet, the rivet head falls off cleanly.
Henry Middleton, a mechanical engineer in the Directorate of Production Engineering, explains that when using the eDrill, there is a significant reduction in the amount of shavings floating in the cabin when rivets are removed.
“The eDrill may also decrease the added PPE requirement, i.e. Tyvek suits and respirators, which will reduce the heat exposure for artisans working in the hangars,” said Ernest Forney, CCAD Manufacturing Division Chief.
CCAD Industrial Hygiene Program Manager, Suellen Dennett, added, “Occupational exposure monitoring will be conducted at the Depot to evaluate the effectiveness of the eDrill technology.”
During a recent training session, artisans, practiced on the skin of a UH-60V, using a portable bead blaster – a machine that actually strips the paint off the aircraft rivet heads. This initial process makes it easier to remove the rivets because stripping the bead provides a better connection for the eDrill. By removing as much primer as possible in the initial process, the better the contact with the fastener will be, making the rivet snap off easier, enabling a quicker clean-up.
“This demonstration and training session serves as one example of how partnership and collaboration leads to innovation. Now more than ever, CCAD will not relent in its pursuit of improving processes that directly…