The US Air Force’s (USAF) Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in California has tested a laser removal process to remove paint and corrosion on aerospace ground equipment.
Travis AFB is one of only two bases selected to test the two lasers, Clean Laser 1000 and the Clean Laser 300.
60th Maintenance Squadron’s (MXS) Aircraft Structural Maintenance corrosion manager technician sergeant Brian Brown said: “The main difference with this laser is that it can remove corrosion without removing metal.
“Sanding and grinding remove additional material while the laser burns off corrosion without taking any metal with it.”
The laser technology provides a safer and more efficient way to remove deep-rooted corrosion in equipment and helps reduce the amount of waste generated by the traditional hand sanders.
60th MXS Aircraft Structural Maintenance journeyman senior airman Troy Chuckran said: “We cannot use paint remover, so we have to use sanders.
“When you are sanding, you can’t always tell how much paint material you are removing and you tend to blend the crack, which causes the severity of the corrosion to be covered up and be discovered by the Non-Destructive Inspection team.
“With the lasers, you’re not removing surface or polishing the surface, you are only removing paint and corrosion.”
The USAF’s Travis AFB carried out the laser tests to ensure that the correct personal protection equipment is worn during the corrosion removal process.
Chuckran added: “We did a week’s worth of testing to determine what type of PPE is needed while using the laser.”
Chuckran further added: “Now we don’t wear the Tyvek suit. All we need are specialised glasses, hearing protection and gloves.”
The two lasers are currently being used on all support equipment for the airframes at Travis AFB, which include air conditioning units, hydraulic carts and the power generator.