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Herks clean up nicely for deployment

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mercedes Porter
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Unlike having the luxury of driving through a typical car wash, aircraft must be hand scrubbed from nose to tail. Each nook and gap must be scrubbed throughout the entire aircraft, even on the inside to prolong the life of it.

For the 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, each C-130J Super Hercules aircraft takes 24 hours to be thoroughly washed then lubricated to prevent any rust or corrosion from forming.

“To start off, the aircraft is scheduled to be down for two days,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Johnson, 317th AMXS crew chief. “Then once the aircraft is towed into the wash rack hangar, we cover any sensitive sensors, exposed electrical connectors and vents. After washing, the aircraft is inspected for corrosion, lubricated, de-prepped, then towed back out.”

Unlike the average soap used for vehicles, the soap used for aircraft must be disposed of in accordance with Air Force and United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines since it is considered a hazardous material. Due to the guidelines, a hangar was made specifically for aircraft washes to drain the chemicals into a containment system.

“Each aircraft is required to be washed every 180 days,” said Johnson. “We ensure this is accomplished sooner than the required days rather than later. We also coordinate washes with the B-1B Lancer aircraft considering they have their own schedule to wash as well.”

Johnson also mentioned that washes are a crucial step for the aircraft before deploying due to corrosion being a “silent killer” for aircraft. Not only does the wash help prevent this, but the lubrication afterwards displaces any water that is present in the moving parts and acts as a barrier from any dirt or moisture during its normal operations.

With the large amount of maintenance required for aircraft, washes are a small but crucial step for the 317th AMXS to ensure the life of C-130Js continue to their maximum potential to deliver cargo and troops anytime and anywhere.