David Mercer, a 47th Maintenance Directorate fabrication work lead, was chosen by wing leadership to be the “XLer” of the week, for the week of Jan. 21, 2019, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
The “XLer” award, presented by Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, is given to those who consistently make outstanding contributions to their unit and the Laughlin mission.
Mercer, a maintainer at Laughlin since 2011 and in aircraft maintenance overall since 1998, has seen a fair amount of aircraft pass under his watchful eye, and his training has given him an eye for improvements.
One repair that Mercer helped design was a base-level process for helping deal with blue water spills while performing post-flight maintenance on T-1 Jayhawk aircraft. The spills are a leading cause of corrosion in the aircraft’s compartment.
“The T-1 and other similar aircraft have a lavatory inside, and if the toilet neutralizing chemical spills it falls into the bilge area of the aircraft and can cause corrosion,” he said. “There are a couple of solutions in the works like alternate toilets or internal barriers. They make anti-corrosion coatings that are applied to places like wheel wells and that was an idea we submitted.”
Mercer, having been in aircraft maintenance since an apprenticeship he took on at Uvalde in the late 90’s, brings both knowledge and experience to the Laughlin mission.
Now a direct supervisor, he utilizes a balanced teaching style that stresses an importance of understanding the technical documentation while appealing to a more modern, hands-on approach that many under him have come to see.
“I didn’t start out in a military environment, I started in the civilian aviation side,” Mercer said. “You either go through formal schooling or hands-on apprenticeships and after an amount of time you test for your certifications. That’s the way I went and I try to maintain that. You’re only as good as what you learned last and no one stops learning in this job.”
For his safety-improving innovations, cost-saving measures, and willingness to train the next generation of Team XL fabrication and maintenance professionals, Mercer earned the “XLer of the week”.