U.S. Navy Honors Projects Designed to Prevent Aircraft Corrosion

FRCSE lead chemist Ruben Prado, left, and engineer technician Rodney Williamson inspect a piece of aircraft aluminum that will go through the team’s new advanced anodize line to receive a corrosion-resistant coating. Photo by Clifford Davis, U.S. Navy.

Scientists and engineers with the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) (Jacksonville, Florida) are being presented this month with the 2016 Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers Award for a series of projects, including two designed to improve corrosion resistance in aircraft parts. The award is bestowed by the department to its top scientists and engineers for outstanding achievements in their fields.

“The award is for the group category, so I think it symbolizes how well we all work together,” says Jack Benfer, lead materials engineer at the Jacksonville center. “We really stress and challenge the team to work as a group and not as individuals, because we’re more effective that way.”

The award recognizes a group of five, including Benfer, senior chemist Ruben Prado, engineer technician Rodney Williamson, materials engineer Peter Sheridan and chemical engineer Luzmarie Youngers, for outstanding achievements in 2016. 

Two of the team’s biggest accomplishments came in the development of new methods to fight corrosion, FRCSE explains, including an advanced anodizing line aimed at providing better protection to aircraft aluminum.

“With our new anodize line, we’re going to see a three-fold improvement in corrosion resistance,” Prado says. “That means a more durable metal for the guys out flying and maintaining these aircraft.”

The team also introduced a new zinc-nickel plating line for steel aircraft components.

The “active” coating works by releasing electrons in the event a steel part is scratched or nicked, to keep the component from corroding. Parts outfitted with the new coating are currently deployed on a Navy aircraft carrier to confirm its durability.

“We think that, not only will it be safer than cadmium plating, it will also be more durable,” Prado says.

The third project recognized as part of the award involves a new chemical milling line, enabling the removal of material with chemicals instead of traditional mechanical milling. The team says this will make the overall milling process faster and more precise.

Source: FRCSE, www.navair.navy.mil.