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C-5 airflow sensor
Rob O’Quinn, 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group mechanical engineer; Karl Zack, 402nd EMXG electrical engineer; and Joan Santillan, Reverse Engineering program manager; specialize in creating organic repair capabilities at Robins. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Aspera)
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Reverse engineering capabilities to extend life of C-5 airflow sensor

Posted 5/16/2014   Updated 5/16/2014 Email story   Print story


by Jenny Gordon
Robins Public Affairs

5/16/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- While its weight is only a few ounces, the job of a C-5 Galaxy airflow sensor is critical in keeping the huge aircraft safely flying.

When parts are no longer available to replace items such as this, the 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group's Reverse Engineering team has the repair capabilities to help solve parts obsolescence challenges in order to sustain crucial items for years to come.

The team of electronics and mechanical engineers, technical writers, draftsmen, project managers and engineering technicians repair the irreparable, performing consulting work at other Air Force bases as needed.

Karl Zack, a 402nd EMXG electrical engineer, is working on a cooling effects detector redesign project, ensuring that the newer version has the same shape, size and function as the original.

"It's a real treat to be working on something that's a complete redesign," he said. "In this case, we wanted to make the sensor a little more robust."

The airflow sensor is basically a warning sensor for over-temperature or under-airflow. The greater the airflow, the better. The lower the temperature, the better.

The sensor sits within an assembly in an air duct. If it gets too hot inside an air duct as a result of avionics overheating, an alarm is triggered as indicated on a flight engineer's panel. The sensor detects a temperature from 170 degrees to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

Until it detects heat that's too high or too low, it will stay out of alarm, said Zack.

In the case of this particular redesign, a mechanical switch located inside the sensor had been subject to failure, and was one of the main components that had been breaking.

"Our design will have no motion involved, thereby eliminating the mechanical aspect of it," he said.

In the world of aviation electronics, the cavernous warehouse known as Bldg. 645 is filled with some of the latest and most exciting technologies. When avionics need to be upgraded, the work is performed here.

With reverse engineering, typically its main function is to stand up test sets here, developing more of a test engineering environment, said Zack.

Their role is unique, creating organic repair capabilities that didn't previously exist. When you change something on a part, for example, there can be various testing involved.

"We have to really go back to way the original asset was qualified, and replicate those tests that were performed on it if we've changed something in it," he said. "With the cooling effects detector, that requires a full re-certification because everything is new."

The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2015.

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