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Air National Guard Maintainers Innovate C-17 Platform

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Daniel Hotter
  • 105th Airlift Wing

The thundering of hammers and wrenches echoed throughout an ordinarily calm aircraft hangar Dec. 21 as a $1.5 million National Guard Bureau investment was pieced together at Stewart Air National Guard Base, home of the 105th Airlift Wing and its nine C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.

The New York Air National Guard now stewards a state-of-the-art C-17 maintenance platform manufactured by Cv International (CVI), designed with assistance from eight senior Air National Guard maintenance personnel from around the nation.

“Initially, we went down to Martinsburg, Virginia, and we did a design phase where we came up with ideas … from our past experience, “said Senior Master Sgt. John E. Tobin III, an inspection section supervisor at the 105th Maintenance Squadron. “From that point, CVI went back to the drawing board. Then we went back to Martinsburg for the first article test. There were a few modifications that had to be made at that point, which are implemented in the stands that we received.”

The groundbreaking stand promises to increase the airworthiness and safety of C-17 aircraft in Stewart’s hangar while saving time and resources. It features an ergonomically designed layout that allows for a quick turnaround for minor repairs and inspections. According to CVI, the platform reduces maintenance time by over 40% and technician fatigue by 97%.

“We were using those little blue Genie lifts, and for each person on a Genie lift, you need a spotter,” Tobin explained. “One person was standing on the ground and watching them drive around, looking at one small area of the aircraft at a time. Now the ground spotters would be able to work … instead of just standing on the ground watching.”

The platform’s cutting-edge technology – including LED lighting and anti-slip surfaces – makes it safer for technicians. It is also adjustable, allowing mechanics more access to the aircraft’s under-structure.

“The guys from each base were very engaged,” said Sam Zumbrunnen, president of CVI. “John Tobin was extremely helpful and provided a lot of input into the design, being the voice of the end-user to make sure that we capture the nuances for the maintainers … to make sure that all their needs could be met.”

The maintenance stand is the latest example of how the Air National Guard strives for innovation and excellence.

“This section has a strong and long history of continuous process improvement, and this is another aspect of that CPI initiative,” said Lt. Col. Eric L. Durkins II, commander, 105th Maintenance Squadron.

“I know all the guys are pretty happy to have them and the jet shop guys are thrilled from what I’ve seen so far because the access that they have now is so much better,” said Tobin.

“We might actually be spending a little bit more time in the fix phase … because what the guys find during the inspections could potentially keep us on the ground a little longer – but we’ll have a safer aircraft for it.”