Offutt maintainer’s innovation saves time, money

  • Published
  • By D.P. Heard, 55th Wing Public Affairs

Tech Sgt. Justin Boettger, 55th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance section chief at Offutt Air Force Base, recently created a rivet set adapter to be used with a slotted drive shaft rotary hammer.

Boettger created the adapter to eliminate the need for air compressors during riveting operations. His rough drawing was presented to machinists who built the unit.

During a recent deployment, he saw that connecting a pneumatic rivet gun to an air compressor using a hose limited flexibility. An accident Boettger had while using an air compressor also fueled his creation. He is still going through subsequent surgeries because of the malfunctioning unit.

“It influenced me to find a way to eliminate air compressors where I could,” said Boettger. “The trips I had to Guam and Utah are what made me look for a solution to the current problem, but the air compressor exploding is what really made me push hard to make it a reality.”

The pneumatic rivet hammers create logistical challenges while trying to maintain combat capability. The cost is prohibitive because pallets of air compressors need to be sent out, and they take up a lot of space on aircraft and weigh approximately two tons.

“Recently while working a flight line job, I had to wait a half hour for an air compressor,” said Tech. Sgt. Paul Jacobson, 55th MXS wash rack manager. “If I had a Boettger adapter and a rotary hammer, I could have had the job done in 10 Minutes.”

By using a 20-volt battery operated rotary hammer with the adapter, individual SDS bit rivet sets are being created. The new units will enable workers to operate faster in less than ideal environments. The lower cost to transport the smaller and more mobile units to the needed areas of responsibility makes them more efficient.

Rivets shot faster, easier and quieter during tests using batter powered rotary hammers. Rotary hammers have been purchased, and hopefully mass production will be funded soon.

“I believe this rivet hammer will be a very useful tool to add to the aircraft structural maintenance arsenal,” said David Bird, 55th MXS fabrication flight chief. “On deployments especially, there are times while deployed that you need to turn aircraft quickly and taking the need for an air compressor out of the equation will assist in getting the job done in a much more expeditious way.”

“The fact that Tech. Sgt. Boettger developed this tool using a rotary hammer that was readily available, and designed a set really shows his ability to think outside the box,” added Bird.