C-5 fleet safer with anti-collision upgrade

  • Published
  • By 2d Lt Tracy Bunko
  • Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs
Maintenance people installed a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, or TCAS, on final operational C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft Oct. 31, according to program officials here.

The system, part of an overall upgrade program designed to keep the transport giant flying until 2040, will reduce the potential for mid-air collisions. Installation was required under Global Air Traffic Management regulations, said Lt. Col. Darrel R. Watsek, the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program manager.

"TCAS is basically a cockpit display that provides the pilot with the relative positions of aircraft in his or her vicinity," said Watsek. "The system alerts the pilot when it determines that there is a danger of collision with another aircraft."

In a TCAS-equipped aircraft, said Watsek, the pilot can adjust his cockpit instruments to track up to 50 targets within an 80-mile forward radius. When the system determines that an aircraft will approach the TCAS-equipped plane too closely, the pilot receives both an aural and symbolic warning. If they continue to converge the pilot of the TCAS aircraft will get a resolution advisory directing him to climb or descend.

"TCAS is now installed on all 126 of the U.S. Air Force's operational C-5 fleet. That's important to the safety of our crews and a major milestone in the AMP program," said Col. Jim Lynch, development system manager for the C-5 modernization program, who credits the system with already avoiding potential accidents.

"In two incidents, C-5 crews reported that TCAS warned them of aircraft dangerously close and directed them to maneuver to avoid collision," he said.

The upgrade is also a major step in bringing the C-5 in line with navigation and safety requirements under the Global Air Traffic Management program, which will allow the heavy transport access to more efficient flight routes, said Watsek. The complete avionics modernization program will provide a suite of advanced avionics needed to meet the stringent navigation and communications required by GATM.

In addition, the new system will use global positioning satellite to enable C-5 crews to fly to airfields in poor weather without the use of a ground based navigation aid.

"With the advanced avionics provided under AMP," said Lynch, "the Air Force can meet airspace requirements anywhere in the world and it allows us to move the war fighter and critical combat equipment safer, faster and more efficiently."