Robins Validates Paint-Removal Process on C-17 Composites

Depot maintainers at Robins AFB, Ga., have validated a more efficient process for removing paint from C-17s called “plastic media blasting,” according to a base release. Officials with the depot want to start using this process on all C-17s coming to the base for programmed depot maintenance, states the July 18 release. “This is unique to Robins—the fact we have the capability to do plastic media blasting to strip an aircraft’s composite parts,” said James Cranford, corrosion flight chief with the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Support Squadron. “While there are a lot of places that have PMB capability on metallic surfaces, the fact we have this here to strip composites takes it to a new level,” he said. PMB is environmentally friendlier than the old process of stripping, which involved maintainers hauling 300 gallon totes to the aircraft to do chemical strips, with composite pieces mechanically stripped by hand sanders. PMB uses tiny, grit-like beads like sand to blast paint from the aircraft’s surface. No hazardous materials are generated and spent media are picked up and recycled including stripped paint, states the release. (Robins report by Jenny Gordon)