by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
6/5/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Georgia -- A
substantial series of repairs have been completed on a high-demand C-5M
Super Galaxy that will soon go down in the history books.
For the first time, 559th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainers here
installed a prototype of a new lavatory system that will soon be
outfitted on the entire C-5 fleet.
At the same time, a second major job occurred to replace a primary
structural component, known as a Batman fitting, on the same
aircraft. This was the second C-5M to receive the replacement
Both repairs are significant because the lavatory modification system --
designed by the C-5 System Program Office here -- and the Batman
fitting replacement project are part of an Air Force effort to improve
the C-5 fleet's reliability and safety.
The aircraft, based at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, arrived for
unscheduled depot level maintenance in mid-February for an unexpected
failure of a structural component on the aft door.
The component experienced fatigue cracking typical for aging aircraft.
Once the aircraft was here for that repair, it was ideal to have the
other work done at the same time.
Interestingly, while looking at the schedule of C-5s, one was already
set to arrive for the new lavatory system installation. However, since
the unforeseen failure of the C-5M occurred, the timing couldn't have
been more perfect to make all the repairs needed at one time, with just
one aircraft out of operation, as opposed to two.
The concurrent work packages resulted in minimum unscheduled maintenance
time for the aircraft, resulting in a positive effect on fleet
The repairs demonstrate Team Robins' capabilities, according to Dave Nakayama, 559 AMXS director.
"By repairing the structural damage to this aircraft, while at the same
time replacing the Batman fitting and also doing a prototype
installation of the new latrine, we were able to maximize aircraft
availability for the warfighter and still accomplish work that needed to
be done for the entire fleet," he said. "The successful outcome of this
initiative was the result of a total team effort by many mission
partners, and the C-5 enterprise benefitted."
The C-5M is scheduled to depart this week; its temporary visit to Robins
will have lasted about 112 days. A total of 8,250 hours was spent on
the total work package to include all three projects.
"There was a lot of work involved in a short amount of time," said Col.
Raegan Echols, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's C-5 Division
chief at Robins. "It's been a huge effort and great accomplishment for
the Air Force."
About the Work
The new bathrooms on the C-5s are expected to be a welcome relief for
crew members and passengers alike. They're located on the crew deck; one
is up front for the crew, the other in the rear troop compartment.
The system's original 1960s design, which is now in line with the
commercial airline industry, consisted of a large waste tank filled with
chemical blue water, using a pump to recirculate waste tank water to
the bowl for flushing, according to Amy Eddy, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance
Support Squadron's C-5/F-15 PDM Engineering Element chief.
Water leaks originating from the old system had resulted in corrosion
issues on the aircraft's floorboards. That alone resulted in extensive,
labor-intensive repairs each time. In addition, leaks onto electrical
panels have resulted in aircraft fires.
The new system is a vacuum-flush system just like those found on
commercial aircraft, and uses a vacuum generator to remove waste from
the bowl to a sealed tank, later drained for servicing. It's basically
the difference between having a portable toilet in your midst or a
It's expected the new system will generate an estimated savings of $1
million in man hours, and $23 million in parts costs over the life of
the C-5 fleet.
With unique challenges experienced aligning the different work packages
-- while on schedule -- there were lessons learned in integrating
military maintenance practices with commercial equipment.
"The process of how we install items and the sequencing certainly resulted in lessons learned," said Eddy.
While that process was happening, workers installed a Batman fitting,
named for its resemblance to the costume headpiece worn by the comic
book character. It is the primary structural component that holds the
front part of the tail structure, the vertical stabilizer, to an
aircraft's fuselage. It weighs about 80 pounds and was redesigned
following inspections in 2009 that identified recurring cracks,
indicative of a fatigue problem.
That repair took place on a C-5M, which was also returned to Dover.
There were definitely challenges at the time since everything was new;
constraints were identified, blueprints had to be created, and
procedures had to be tested.
Michael McUmber, 559 AMXS sheet metal mechanic, worked on the first C-5M that received the prototype last fall.
"From doing the prototype, since it was the first, we had to learn
basically everything," he said. "The process this time went much
This particular fleet-wide change will help keep C-5s flying for the next 40 years and more.