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12 juillet 2011 2 12 /07 /juillet /2011 12:35

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Jul 12, 2011 ASDNews Source : US Air Force

 

Travis AFB, Calif. - Seven years ago, 46 Lockheed Martin technicians were preparing to modernize the avionics suite on 111 C-5 Galaxy aircrafts. Now, 18 technicians at Travis are working on the last three of those aircraft and should finish the work by next May, two years ahead of schedule.

 

"We're just a few weeks into removing more than 19 miles of the wire on this aircraft (No. 461), but we've started 28 of the 124 functional checks on another aircraft (No. 451)," said Denny Pyles, Lockheed Martin engineering technician at Travis AFB. Performing functional checks on the aircraft is the last stage of the C-5 avionics modernization program, or C-5 AMP, before sending the aircraft for an actual flight test, Mr. Pyles said.

 

Like the other two aircraft, No. 451 is from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Once modernized, all three aircraft will be reassigned to the West Virginia Air National Guard at Martinsburg, W. Va., said Pyles.

 

Lockeed Martin started the $70 million C-5 avionics modernization program, called C-5 AMP, at Dover AFB, Del, in 2004, but shifted the operation to Travis a year later, said Eric Langford, Lockheed Martin assistant site manager at Travis AFB.

 

In the early days of the modernization program, the learning curve was steep, but technicians worked around the clock seven days a week to turn out a modernized C-5 about every three months. Now the AMP program is drawing to a close so fewer technicians are assigned to the program, Langford explained.

 

The C-5 AMP is actually the first step of a two-phase program. The second phase, the reliability enhancement and re-engining program, or RERP, involves replacing current C-5 engines with new CF-6 General Electric engines that are less noisy, have more thrust and provide an increased climb rate than allowed by current engines.

 

Lockheed Martin's facility in Marietta, Ga., is handling the re-engining phase of the project. With both avionics and engine upgrades, the C-5 designation becomes the "M" model, according to Lynn Rollin, C-5 AMP project manager with the 60th Maintenance Group at Travis.

 

Lockheed successfully flight-tested the first C-5M Super Galaxy in January 2006, said Rollin, who serves as liaison between the Air Force and Lockheed Martin.

 

Although C-AMP upgrades were completed on all C-5s assigned to Travis in October 2008, it will be several more years before the aircraft enter the re-engining phase, said Rollin. Dover AFB has received the Air Force's first three C-5M's in the inventory, he said.

 

The Air Force began upgrading all of its C-5 A, B, and C model aircraft in 2004. A study in the year 2000 showed that 80 percent of the C-5's airframe service life remained. But the aircraft was plagued with reliability and maintainability issues.

 

With the new avionics and engine changes, the C-5 gains a 75 percent increase in reliability and maintainability, better fuel efficiency and will cost less to operate and maintain, Rollin said.

 

The upgrades will extend the life of the C-5 past the year 2040, he said. The changes will also allow aircrew to fly the C-5 in commercial lanes, something they can't now do without waivers or paying fines, Langford said.

 

AMP changes include a new all-weather flight control system and autopilot, a new communications suite, flat-panel displays and enhanced navigation and safety system.

 

The latter allows aircrew to view terrain maps and respond to traffic alert and collision avoidance systems featuring visual and auditory cues.

 

"Two integrated datalink systems supply the cockpit information," said Rollin. He said the datalink system has built-in redundancies so if one system breaks, the other takes over.

 

The new avionics systems will also assist crew chiefs in trouble shooting flight control problems "down to the valve," said Rollin. And the computer software on the aircraft will be constantly updated making the system as modern as any jet fighter in the inventory, he said.

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