Using Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, airmen at Dover Air Force Base, Del., improved the reliability and life expectancy of the C-5M Super Galaxy.
AFSO21 is the Air Force’s dedicated effort to maximize value and minimize waste in all of our processes.
“We identified the whole process with our Dewars (tank) and fire suppression system of the aircraft as being one of the leading causes of downtime for the aircraft,” said MSgt. Jay Haller, 512th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electro-environment systems technician. “Sometimes it was taking three weeks to get an airplane back in the sky because of some of the defects.”
In August 2008, airmen from AMXS, fuel, front line and back line came together to see what they could do to make the system better.
They came up with a lot of ideas, but soon realized they weren’t going to be able to implement a lot of the fixes at the field level.
In April 2009, they went to a product improvement working group at Robbins Air Force Base, Ga., and developed lines of communication with the engineers.
In May 2009, they put together a Dover Dewar Conference at Dover AFB that included two engineers from Robbins AFB, seven engineers from Lockheed Martin, C-5 community maintainers, and people from Parker Hannifin, the manufacturer.
“For two days we had the best and the brightest in one room talking about the system and what we needed to upgrade it,” Haller said.
The new system is putting liquid nitrogen, which is negative 320 degrees, into the Dewar tank. This not only helps with aircraft fires, but also puts a positive pressure on top of the wings and the fuel systems.
The Dewar and fire suppression system works by opening up the valves and letting the nitrogen flow through the plumbing into the non-manned areas of the aircraft. Oxygen is pushed out allowing the nitrogen to put out the fire. Also by placing nitrogen into the fuel itself there is no oxygen so there is less chance of having a fire inside the fuel tank.
What has been developed and improved through the AFSO21 process are re-designed valves, a universal wiring harness, an upgraded FSS control panel, and better seals and plumbing.
The first jet with the upgraded system is on Dover AFB in the isochronal maintenance dock.
“The team’s work has come to fruition and 100 percent of C-5M aircraft are being retrofitted with the new system,” said CMSgt. Chris Ford, the 512th Maintenance Squadron superintendent.
Ford said the system is an improvement that came about through an enterprising teamwork effort spanning across multiple Air Force and Department of Defense agencies.
“The Dewar system augments the congressionally authorized C-5M Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program modernization program and enables an aged aircraft to operate beyond the year 2040 while simultaneously fostering an increase in C-5 reliability, something that has plagued the aircraft over its 40+ year lifespan,” Ford said.