GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D --
The 319th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection team is the first of its kind to travel the world performing inspections on RQ-4 Global Hawks with a mobile automated scanner system across the U.S. Air Force.
The MAUS system operates like an ultrasound on the Global Hawk’s wings to create a detailed image of the aircraft’s interior, using sound waves to map and identify flaws.
“When using the MAUS we are scanning the aircraft from wingtip to wingtip to look for interior cracks or imperfections,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Walters, 319th Aircraft Maintenance nondestructive inspection technician. “Our job is to find any defects in the aircraft so they can be repaired before the next flight.”
The inspection team here performs the MAUS inspection as routine maintenance on the RQ-4 Global Hawk every 150 flights.
“When a Global Hawk needs a MAUS inspection overseas, our section will deploy in teams of six,” said Senior Airman Harry Fraticelli, NDI craftsman assigned to the 319 AMXS. “Usually, we go to Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi to perform this inspection, but we will go wherever the Global Hawks need us.”
Scanning the 130-foot wing span of the remotely piloted aircraft can take days to complete but is essential for the aircraft’s high-altitude, long-endurance missions.
“A MAUS scan took over two weeks to complete before our NDI team took over the inspection process,” said Fraticelli. “We have reduced that time to only four or five days to complete the full scan in deployed locations.”
Due to COVID-19, the Grand Forks AFB NDI team has deployed to locations for more than a month at a time to execute multiple inspections on aircrafts across the Air Force.
Fraticelli and Senior Airman Garrett Suarez, 319 AMXS NDI craftsman, are training multiple Airmen in the NDI shop to be certified in order to lead a MAUS inspection.
“Our goal as the NDI team is to make the invisible, visible,” said Senior Airman Maverick Shuler, 319 AMXS NDI craftsman, “At the end of the day we make sure the Global Hawks in the air are undamaged and safe to fly.”
The NDI Airmen of GFAFB enable the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission of the RQ-4 Global Hawk across the U.S. Air Force.