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380AEW Article

NDI: Ensuring structural integrity and peace of mind

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing / Public Affairs

Inspections are nothing new to the Air Force. In fact, there is an Air Force specialty code within the maintenance field specifically for inspections. Whether at home or deployed, the mission for the 2A7X2 Nondestructive Inspection Airman does not change. They work daily to ensure the structural integrity of our aircraft.

“The aircraft would not get up on a daily basis without having fabrication in the mix,” said Staff Sgt. Lisandra Camiscioli, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight NCO in charge of NDI.

One common task the Airmen of NDI performs includes checking engine oil daily for contamination. There are two methods used to accomplish this, the first is done by taking a sample of engine oil and running it through the joint oil analysis program.

“Every single day we have at least one aircraft that’s flying.” said Camiscioli. “About 30 minutes after it’s landed they [aircraft maintainers] pull that JOAP [oil sample]. They have 75 minutes from the time they pulled it to bring it into our work center. And from the time they drop it off, we have another 75 minutes to get it burned, get it coded, and give the results to the Maintenance Operations Center.”

The magnetic chip detector is another method NDI uses to check the oil. This is a device placed inside the engine and pulls any fraying pieces of metal onto the chip. The chip is then run through a system to analyze the metals found.

The data retrieved from JOAP or the MCD allows the inspectors to determine what, if any, part of the engine is breaking down.

Running diagnostics on oil is not the only thing the NDI Airmen do. There are hourly inspections, which vary with aircraft, as well as using special tools to check possible cracks. Most of their duties may go unnoticed outside of their career field. They are not the ones turning wrenches every day, but the work they do gives direction to others, letting them know what needs to be done to keep the aircraft in the fight.

“If something breaks down, the second you have an issue, if you don’t have NDI to verify if something is broken or to check that engine oil and let you know exactly what part is breaking down in the engine,” said Camiscioli, “that aircraft won’t be able to fly.”

Senior Airman Jared Allen, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight NDI journeyman, said that NDI is a small career field but that is what makes it like family.

Allen joined the Air Force because of his love of aircraft, and has come to love his chosen career field. “I enjoy the science behind it really,” he said.

“I give the pilots peace of mind essentially,” said Allen. “Knowing that their aircraft and their equipment is good to go and not damaged in any way.”