2/1/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- It would be impossible to routinely and safely land a plane as big as the C-5 without ensuring the landing gears were fully functioning.
That's why the employees in Bldg. 125 test those critical parts during programmed depot maintenance to ensure C-5 missions all over the world go off without a hitch.
In January, there was bustling activity in the 559th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's landing gear shop due to the arrival of a new landing gear test stand.
The prototype, currently being assembled and tested, could significantly impact operations in terms of workplace safety, ergonomics and supply chain supportability issues.
Not to mention cost.
With teamwork on research, design and installation from the C-5 System Program Office and General Atomics Systems Integration, the first of two new stands should soon be up and running with validation. "This has been several years in the making, and now it's finally coming to fruition," said Edward Messer, 559th AMXS landing gear shop supervisor.
When a landing gear is brought to the site, a test stand would have to be lowered to lift it into position so workers could begin testing it.
With the new stand, no lifting of the part is required since the platform acts as a 'drawbridge,' allowing the gear to be driven straight inside.
"Our workers are pretty excited about the newer stands," continued Messer. "It will make the work easier as far as hooking up the landing gear, diagnostics and help with any troubleshooting."
"It will really help our mechanics," agreed C-5 field engineer Doug Nanez. "It will be more user friendly, assisting with their comfort and ease while working."
A more sophisticated digital control board (similar to a laptop) in the new stand also adds to an improved overall process. Its hydraulic valves will help test and ensure the correct landing gear is working exactly as it should.
"We can do a few more operational checks as well that we couldn't do before," Messer said.
Many parts in the old stand are now obsolete, resulting in time lost waiting for their arrival whenever a stand breaks down. The new stand will eliminate the wait, since many parts are now commercially readily available and interchangeable.
The new stand not only looks sturdier and most robust, but includes a wider stairwell, stairs and rails for safety, improved lighting, greater ease of access to utilities, as well as a wiring analyzing unit.
"It will essentially test the integrity of the wiring on the landing gear," said Ernie Ruiz with GA-SI. "Not only are we updating the technology for the controls in the stands, but again we're improving overall safety for the mechanic."
"The end goal is to continue to have a high quality landing gear for the C-5," he said. "The C-5 is projected to remain in service for another 30 years, and with these new landing gear stands, we are assured that having fully functional landing gear ready for aircraft going through PDM won't be a problem," said Dave Nakayama, 559th AMXS director.