MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
There are several types of mechanics who work on helicopters to keep them mission capable. The mechanics who keep the spinning parts moving are those of the Dynamic Component Shop.
“I work on everything that spins on a helicopter, except the engine,” said Cpl. Chris Konow, a dynamic component mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16. “I work on rotor heads, drive shafts, the blades and the smaller components including the support bearings in between the drive shafts.”
The two main parts the mechanics work on are the rotor head and helicopter blades.
Most rotor heads come from a squadron to the dynamic component shop with a small oil leak, and the dynamic component mechanics complete an initial inspection for oil leaks and bad bearings.
“We have to inspect the entire head to make sure nothing else is wrong with it before we send it back out to the squadrons,” said Konow.
The most common problem found during an initial pressure test is a leaking seal, so the mechanics have to pull off an arm of the rotor head to replace that seal and while putting it back on, may nick another seal. The only problem is the nicked seal isn’t discovered until a final pressure check is performed, he explained.
“We do all this by hand,” said Konow. “Lifting arms for reattachments takes about three or four guys and movement happens, which is how seals get nicked.”
Blades are probably the biggest project for the dynamic component mechanics, he explained.
“There are so many things we do with them including sanding and fiber glass work,” said Konow.
Dynamic mechanics inspect the blades for erosion, bad tip caps and to ensure the polyurethane tape, which protects nickel abrasion strip, is still intact. The nickel abrasion strip protects the inside of the blade from debris in the air.
The mechanics also paint them with carbon fiber paint as another protective measure.
Before the Marines can begin fixing rotor heads and blades, they attend the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., to learn the very basics of their job.
In school, Marines are taught how to work on the parts, but most of their skills come from on-the-job training, explained Pfc. Jose Guillen, a dynamic component mechanic with MALS-16.
Once the Marines reach their first duty station, they log training hours working on each piece of equipment to gain the knowledge they need to be successful.
There are four levels to complete, which are measured by the number of on the job training hours a Marine performs. When a mechanic is promoted to corporal and reaches level four, he has logged enough training hours to become a collateral duty inspector and begin teaching junior Marines how to fix the equipment, explained Konow.
“I am a CDI, and it is a very proud accomplishment,” said Konow, who has been a dynamic component mechanic for three years. “I’ve had my CDI stamp for about a month. There is definitely never a dull moment.”
The dynamic component shop is small so the Marines are all close and work well together. The more experienced Marines also find it a better environment to teach the junior Marines their job, he explained.
“It’s better this way because it is easier to teach the Marines the tricks of the trade when the bulk of their job is all OJT,” concluded Konow.