First C-5 dock renovated - everything but the kitchen sink

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Inside a maintenance dock in one of the oldest buildings at Robins, a massive undertaking has humbly taken center stage for more than a year. 

In a space where a C-5 Galaxy is usually parked during programmed depot maintenance, Dock 2 operations have instead focused on renovations to completely overhaul not an aircraft, but the physical location itself where planners, engineers, schedulers and maintainers work every day.

Everything from the floors below to the roof above has undergone a transformation, a cosmetic, behind-the-scenes upgrade of epic proportions that will be celebrated during a ribbon cutting later this month.

"C-5 personnel are some of the most professional, most talented mechanics in the aircraft maintenance group. It's great to finally be able to provide them with a state-of-the-art professional, well-lit and well-heated environment to work in," said Kevin Hamilton, 559th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (acting) director, who has worked in aviation maintenance for over 31 years. "I have worked in numerous aircraft facilities across our Air Force - this dock is by far the best."

When facilities were first being constructed when base operations began in the early 1940s, Bldg. 125 was one of the first erected. While its roof has been repaired over the decades, the entire structure has never been completely replaced. 

That changed in 2014, 73 years since it was initially installed. 

As part of a five-year maintenance and repair roof replacement project, the building's roof was entirely taken apart at one time and replaced. Once the entire building project is completed, it will have affected operations that encompass some 400,000 square feet of floor space below it. Dock 2 was the first area to benefit.

It was agreed that the end result of how a hangar should look, feel and operate is what maintainers, work leaders, supervisors, engineering and inspection personnel will appreciate when the first aircraft finally arrives in Dock 2.

"It was fortunate we were able to begin with a clean slate," said Andy Huntt with the C-5 Facility Engineering Team. "The floor space was wide open. We didn't operate with the mindset to put it back the way it was. We wanted it better - to make more efficient use of space."

"The amount of cooperation to get this project done is tremendous. From production folks who will live here, to the contractors, to plant services, to civil engineering, it's been a great example of teamwork," he said. 

The new laminate, interlocking roof is layered, with a shape and design that dampens the sound of the work. In the past when the mass notification system was used, sound would bounce around. The new roof's insulation qualities alleviates that. Maintenance work will also not sound as loud.

"With any echoing, holes in the panels allow sound to get into its special insulation," said Billy Miller with the C-5 Facility Engineering Team. "That ambient noise goes out and never comes back."

Also, the new standing-seam metal roof will ensure there'll be no leaks in the future. Each of its 150-foot panels insures this. Even during hot and humid summer days in Georgia, one of the roof's unique capabilities is the ability to expand and contract with the heat. 

One of the first things a visitor will notice is how bright the space is. No new lights were placed. Instead, what you're seeing is the result of cleaning and a fresh coat of paint on interior walls; the addition of translucent panels at the dock's east wall, bringing in a welcoming glow inside; and a layer of roof panels that in turn reflect light.

A dramatic change was made to the floor itself, which was resurfaced and recoated. That floor and the addition of paint on the walls had not been part of the original plan. 

Designers and engineers have maximized the nearly 70,000 square feet of current space, efficiently using the area to include a dedicated spot for two current C-5 landing gear fixture test stands, which were first assembled in the new dock in October. A third fixture will be relocated later this year. 

"The focus on efficient use of space in Dock 2, and the next three docks as they are refurbished, will help us gain valuable space that has the potential to be used for industrial and production space," said Hamilton. "We would be able to install tooling and equipment in these recaptured spaces that would allow us or the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group to work C-5 components under the roof of Bldg. 125, close to the aircraft." 

Adding further efficiency, abandoned cables were removed, as well as utility runs and miscellaneous brackets and hardware that were no longer being supported by equipment not in use for years. Including Dock 2, each of the building's other three docks will include a dedicated communication room, which will house equipment in a climate-controlled environment.

Also in the dock, a two-story modular office building, which will house evaluation and inspection personnel, as well as work leaders and supervisors who will sit just several feet away from incoming aircraft. 

The dock's fire alarm and fire suppression system was also upgraded. And aircraft wing stands are currently in place, with a test fit on a C-5 tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. 

The project's next phase of renovations will happen in nearby Dock 1. Managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the project's overall cost is over $50 million.