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Metals technology
Staff Sgt. Michael Desimone, 31st Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology craftsman, welds a fitting for a coolant machine, Sept. 16, 2013, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Metals technology Airmen design, weld and fabricate machine precision tools, components and assemblies for aerospace weapon systems and other support equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Briana Jones)
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Metals Technology: creating art piece by piece

Posted 9/27/2013   Updated 9/27/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Briana Jones
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/27/2013 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- The metals technology shop at Aviano has a reputation for being able to fix and create almost anything, from aircraft parts to specialized tools, these Airmen accept all challenges.

The 12 Airmen of the 31st Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology shop are responsible for creating and fixing Fighting Falcon F-16 aircraft parts. Metals technology Airmen design, weld and fabricate machine precision tools, components, and assemblies for aerospace weapon systems and related support equipment. The primary mission of the shop is supporting the F-16's and transient aircraft here.

"There is not an agency on base that we do not or will not support," said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Eickhoff, 31st MXS aircraft metals technology NCO in charge. "When all else fails, when all other possibilities have been exhausted, come to us and we'll see what can be done."

The creative and ingenuitive skills of the shop have earned them the nickname the 'MacGyver shop'. With these skills, the Airmen provide Team Aviano with just about anything they need metal wise.

"I have been doing this for 15 years, and it never gets boring," said Eickhoff. "You are allowed to be creative while still putting out a quality product, it is my favorite part of the job and it honestly feels like there is nothing we cannot do."

In a career field where Airmen come into contact with a variety of equipment, accuracy and attention to detail are essential. They perform inspections on metal working machinery, hand tools and also perform service inspections on shop equipment, tools and aircraft parts.

"There is no room for error, efficiency is crucial in my career field," said Senior Airman Troy Poe, 31st MXS aircraft maintenance technology journeyman. "We are fabricating and refurbishing parts to go back onto an aircraft; the pilots trust us to properly inspect their jets and it does not get more important than that."

The next big project for the metal tech shop is a new safety system for ground equipment. The more than 130 new gating systems will provide a safety barrier for Airmen when working on the aircraft. The project is scheduled to take six or more months to complete.

"The capability metals technology has is key to maintaining our aircraft and equipment," said Master Sgt. Albert Zaletel, 31st MXS fabrication flight chief. "Being able to reproduce parts locally that are not readily available is just one of the many abilities they have."

The unique skills of the Airmen in the metals technology shop are an important asset to Aviano and the Air Force. The Airmen possess the ability to create just about anything the mind can imagine and provide quality products that help save the Air Force time and money.

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