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Innovation saves AMC $2 million annually

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Thomas T. Charlton
  • Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (AFNS) -- The 437th Airlift Wing began modifying the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft with new mounts for the Electronic Flight Bag Sept. 25, 2017. The new mounts will increase flight safety in C-17s and are estimated to save Air Mobility Command $2 million in repairs annually.

The EFB allows the aircrew to digitally view aviation charts and publications. Previously, these documents were published on paper. EFBs augmented the paper publications until AMC eliminated the requirement to carry paper publications and allowed the sole use of EFBs for in-flight reference.

“The EFBs were being fastened to the side-view windows using suction cup mounts as a supplement to the original mount which was designed to hold the paper publications,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Clark, 437th Operations Group deputy chief of standards and evaluations. “Since the paper version is no longer required, a permanent EFB mounting solution was in order. While requests to modify the plane with a permanent EFB mount had been submitted to the System Program Office years ago when the EFB was initially approved, they didn’t gain traction until paper publications were no longer required and a costly maintenance trend with safety of flight implications was identified.”

Lt. Col. Mike Coppola, 437th Maintenance Squadron commander, noted numerous Intercommunication Control Set panels being damaged on a weekly basis. The suction cup mounts were popping off windows and hitting panels causing a maintenance backlog of repairs for the aircraft. ICS panels are used to communicate to other members on board other aircraft and air traffic control towers. The damage to the panels required costly repairs each year for AMC.

Upon being notified of the damage occurring to the aircraft, Col. Louis Hansen, 437th OG commander, brainstormed a fix with his team and worked with Col. Brian Peters, former 437th Maintenance Group commander, to execute a trial installation of a concept that Clark proposed. Master Sgt. Andrew Preuss, 437th MXG maintenance engineering superintendent, aided in the demonstration and helped get the modification approved by AMC.

“This solution requires no modifications, such as drilling or welding, to the aircraft as it uses the same two bolts that secured the paper chart holder, and is a slightly modified off-the-shelf mount in the same location,” said Preuss. “No additional funding was required for implementation because the wing already had the required equipment on hand.”

The 437th AW took this idea from prototype to implementation in six months. Approval for most aircraft modifications takes longer to be approved, but a demonstration for Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, AMC commander, quickened the process.

“Travis Air Force Base (California) also implemented a prototype of our design and demonstrated it for the AMC commander during a visit to their installation,” said Preuss. “After General Everhart saw the EFB mount, he pushed for the modification to be implemented on all C-17 aircraft assigned to AMC.”

Over a third of the C-17s at JB Charleston have already been modified and the rest are scheduled to be finished in the next 90 days.

“I think this is a great improvement that eliminates safety of flight issues and moves us closer to fully embracing a paperless cockpit,” said Clark. “I look forward to seeing it implemented across the fleet.”