by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
3/26/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Using
Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, Airmen from Dover Air
Force Base, Del., were able to improve 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 and fire suppression
system of the aircraft as being one of the leading causes of downtime
for the aircraft," said Master Sgt. Jay Haller, 512th Aircraft
Maintenance Squadron electro environment person. "Sometimes it was
taking three weeks to get an airplane back in the sky because of some of
In August of 2008 Airmen from AMXS, Maintenance Squadrons, fuel, front
line and back line came together to see what they could do to make the
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 of 2009 they went to a Product Improvement Working Group at
Warren Robbins Air Force Base, Ga., and developed lines of communication
with the engineers.
In May of 2009 they put together a Dover Dewar Conference at Dover AFB
which included two engineers form Warren 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," said Haller.
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
The Dewar and FSS 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 up-graded FSS control
panel, and better seals and plumbing.
The first jet having the upgraded system is on Dover AFB in their 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 Chief Master Sgt. Chris
Ford, 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," said Ford.