Salvaged flight deck from C-5 mishap becomes tool
By Staff Sgt. James Wilkinson , 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 24, 2006
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFPN) -- The crew compartment belonging to the C-5 Galaxy aircraft that fell less than a mile short of Dover Air Force Base's runway April 3 has been salvaged for use in C-5 aircraft crew training.
The compartment, commonly referred to as the aircraft's flight deck, was loaded onto a C-5 and airlifted to its final destination Aug. 22 at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., where it will be used as a modernized C-5 software simulator, according to Chief Master Sgt. Jon Lynn, the 436th Maintenance Squadron superintendent and supervisor of the mishap recovery effort.
"This was the first-ever C-5 flight deck transported (as cargo) via airplane," said Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Martin, the 436th Aerial Port Squadron air freight superintendent who oversaw a crew of specialists transporting the flight deck from the mishap scene to the plane.
Flight decks are assembled and installed at Lockheed Martin's C-5 Galaxy production facility in Marietta, Ga., so there is usually no need to transport them via aircraft as they are normally attached to the fuselage.
Various members from Dover, along with experts from Robins AFB and civilian engineers, worked together to prepare the compartment for its departure from Dover.
The crew compartment was recovered in May, using power saws to separate it from the fuselage and a crane to lift it.
"Once we had the flight deck off of the fuselage, we stored it on one of (the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron's) flatbed trailers," said Chief Lynn. "The removal process left many dangerous, sharp corners and cuts. We trimmed up the flight deck to reduce the hazards around it and make it shippable."
Once the compartment was transportable, it was hauled from the mishap site, stored and finally prepped for airlift.
It took six Airmen to successfully load the 15,000-pound flight deck onto a C-5 for shipment. Due to the unusual shape and size of the flight deck, it had special loading requirements and transporting procedures.
"When moving a larger piece of equipment like this one, which is going to be uploaded onto a C-5 by a K-loader, a unique procedure that needs to be done is configuring the loader so the piece will fit," said Senior Airman Joseph Mosley, a 436th APS ramp service member and crew chief for the uploading. Spotters and vehicle drivers were used for extra safety precautions.
The side rails on the aircraft tunner loader -- a large, flatbed vehicle used for loading cargo -- were removed to enable the flight deck to fit. Then, the load team pushed the cargo from the loader onto the plane, while spotters ensured the safety of the operation.
Once the compartment was loaded, it was flown and delivered to the depot at Robins AFB, where it will be repaired and modified to perform its new functions.
"The role the flight deck will play in the future is invaluable," Chief Lynn said. "We are effectively taking a mishap aircraft and using it to prevent future mishaps."
At Robins, the recycled crew compartment will be used to contribute for training and the testing of aircrews.
"Simulators play an absolutely critical role for not only pilots, but also flight engineers and loadmasters," said Capt. Chris Knier, the 436th Operations Support Squadron pilot training manager. "They are a resource (for) annual refresher training in a controlled environment to set up scenarios (and) exercise specific skill sets."
Along with all 17 passengers and crew members on board during the mishap, the crew compartment can be considered a survivor; one that can help prevent future accidents like the one it and its passengers endured in April.
"It's good to know that the people who will use this simulator will realize the importance of the lessons they're learning, because they can learn how to prevent similar accidents in a device that is a result of one," the captain said.