Merex, a Dubin Clark Company, has developed proprietary tooling, fixtures and engineering processes and techniques to cost effectively replace the wing skins on the Northrop F-5 aircraft.
A pilot program is underway with ENAER of Chile to address sustainment of their F-5 Fleet. The international fleet of the F-5 aircraft has accumulated significant flight hours and many aircraft require sustainment solutions to meet the training and defense needs of the future, according to the company.
The fixtures, accessories and processes developed by Merex are designed specifically for addressing required wing repair, refurbishment and upgrade programs. Virtually any degradation issue with the wing can be successfully addressed using this system. The company has a U.S. Patent Pending on tooling and processes developed to support this work.
Merex Project Manager, Chris Garville reports, “Our customers needed a solution that they could afford. The Merex Wing Fixture saves over four (4) times the costs of a new wing and shortens the delivery time by a factor of five to one.”
Merex’s first wing skin program is with the Chilean Air Force and the disassembly and reassembly will be performed under a Teaming Agreement with ENAER, the leading Chilean Aerospace company located in Santiago, Chile.
“We are using a laser tracker system to accurately locate and identify each fastener on the wing assembly, which is saving a significant amount of time and cost for the disassembly and reassembly processes. In addition, we are using EDM (electronic discharge) technology to speed the removal of the rivets. Removal rates go from 2 minutes using a manual drill to under 15 seconds using the EDM solution,” Garville says.
Unique to the F-5 is the ability to remove the entire wing assembly and ship it worldwide. Merex is providing ‘pick-up and re-delivery’ services to all its customers around the globe including special shipping containers, export compliance documentation, and freight forwarding services.