Corrective Forming of 701 Skin Panels for F-18 Overhaul

NCMS Project #: 140472

Problem: The Navy Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRC-SW) and NAVAIR need to tool up manufacturing to make replacement 701 skins for the fuselage panels on the
F-18 because the original equipment manufacturer is not available to make replacement parts.

FRC-SW has about 65 aircraft in overhaul at any specific time so availability of precise fitting panels is critical.

Approximately 50 skin panels were previously forged through DLA on a drop forge to meet immediate demands however these did not fit sufficiently to be useful.  This has resulted in serious overhaul schedule issues, unneeded scrap, and greatly increased workaround costs.

Benefit: Components that do not accurately meet fit up specifications are significant cost and schedule problems for new systems as well as systems in overhaul.  Non-confor­mance of shape results in scrapping of parts with high value added and often more significantly to severe and costly program delays.  Non-conforming components are often “forced” into a fit resulting in unacceptable stress loading into the system that can lead to fatigue and stress corrosion cracking.  An ability now can be envisioned to accurately measure component shape, determine where corrective forming is needed and using a technology called laser peening, precisely apply the corrective form to exactly the areas needed resulting in a fully usable component.

Solution/Approach: By means of the laser peening process the investment expense and schedule delay could be re­covered and scrap parts could be salvaged by tailoring an available corrective laser peen forming process to the 701 skins.

The project would undertake the laser peening corrective forming of the panels insufficiently shaped by the drop forge. The result would salvage investments made by the tooling and turning the non-conforming panels into precision fits.

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Salvage scrapped parts
  • Recover incurred costs
  • Provide supply of precise fitting panels
  • Shorten overhaul schedule

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Navy (FRC Southwest)
  • DLA

Industry Participation:

  • Metal Improvement Company
  • NCMS

Final Report