Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CFB Trenton's plane, chopper doctors

CFB TRENTON - The country's largest air base benefits from Cpl. Brittany Purchon's painstaking paint work.

And the volume of that workload for Purchon and her co-workers just went through the roof now that aircraft are coming home from a war zone.

With the recent conclusion of the Canadian Forces' 10-year mission in Afghanistan, came busy times for Royal Canadian Air Forces' aircraft structures technicians (ACS) like Purchon at Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron's (ATESS) refinishing shop.

From cleaning, refinishing, and entirely re-painting Griffon CH-416 helicopters to refurbishing pieces of equipment that were first manufactured in-house for military operations in Afghanistan, almost everything gets a second life at the wing's refinishing shop.

For the last eight weeks, Purchon — along with Cpl. Dean Lord, an ACS tech with the 424 Transport Search and Rescue Sqn., and six others out of the 48 posted with ATESS — has been working meticulously on refinishing a Griffon CH-416 helicopter that was used by the army in Afghanistan.

The helicopter, which was kitted out in army green until a couple months ago, is being turned into a red, yellow, and black search and rescue aircraft that will soon be flown by 424 Sqn. — replacing one of the squadron's fleet of four.

“Here at the shop, we do complete refurbishing of any aircraft, from cleaning, stripping, and paint work on specific aircraft, so they look good again and can be flown for different purposes,” said Purchon, a Borden native who was posted with the Trenton refinishing shop in September, 2007.

“We are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the aircraft structures and related components. Over the last four years I have worked on two other Griffons, as well as on one CF-18 Hornet and did a little bit of work on the Harvard for the museum (National Air Force Museum of Canada).”

All this refinishing work is done in order to get the most air-frame hours as possible out of the aircraft. Warrant Officer Robert Pomeroy, also an ACS tech at ATESS, said the Canadian Forces centralize their aircraft that have been used in several different locations over a certain period of time and reconfigure their “jobs”, in order to make them last longer.

“Refinishing an aircraft is a big job,” said Pomeroy. “It takes us between eight to 10 weeks just for one Griffon. Our work is a bit like being a scientist in a way that every kind of paint has a weight and everything has to be measured. For instance, in order to get off the ground and fly properly, the Griffon cannot have more than 300 pounds of paint on its structure.”

Purchon, Lord, and Pomeroy's occupation encompasses a variety of skills and abilities relating to tasks such as metal and composite repair, painting, machining and welding.

The trio is currently working out of the squadron's 62-year-old service building. On March 3, the 48 ACS technicians at CFB Trenton will move into their new home — a brand new, state-of-the-art $30.9-million facility that will allow them to paint aircraft and parts up to the size of a CF-18 Hornet fighter jet.

Once fully operational and settled into their new home, one of the ACS techs' first tasks will be to refinish 15 more Griffons as well as refurbishing the original Golden Hawk F-86 Sabre Jet that has been on display at Zwicks Park in Belleville since 1967, the year it was presented to the city by the Lions Club in commemoration of Canada's Centennial.

Before it gets re-installed on its pedestal at Zwicks Park, the aircraft — which was lifted off by Warrant Officer Jeff Levesque and his staff from ATESS' Recovery and Salvage Support unit last November — will require a considerable amount of work.

“The Sabre is in such disarray that its main aluminum structure is in poor shape and its canopy has to be completely redone because it's destroyed, so we will have to make one from scratch, which will take at least two to three months,” said Pomeroy.

“And with the refinishing work, which will take four to six months, and the manpower required for this aircraft to get finished and ready to be re-installed in the park it will take at least two years.”

Source:  http://www.intelligencer.ca

No comments: