Dover AFB receives new maintenance trainer

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman James Bolinger
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Avionics Modernization Program, also known as AMP, is changing the way C-5s are flown by streamlining the C-5 to emulate civilian aircraft; replacing dials with multi-function display units (computer screens) and installing new communications and navigation panels. 

These new AMP systems not only impact the pilots who fly the planes, but also the maintainers who fix them. 

For that reason, Air Mobility Command and Air Education and Training Command decided to commission a simulator to instruct the two Air Force Specialty Codes that will fix avionics AMP systems. 

The trainer was designed by Aeronautical Radio Incorporated and is known as the Combined Avionics Systems Trainer. Two trucks carrying the trainer arrived at Dover Air Force Base Sept. 7. 

The biggest advantage to a new trainer is improved quality of education, said Master Sgt. Mark Ruehr Headquarters AMC C-5 Trainer Development Team chief. 

"On the flightline, one C-5 will be designated a trainer for the day," said Sergeant Ruehr. "The problem with working on an actual aircraft is the inability to break something so students can learn how to fix it. We can't cut a wire on a plane just for training purposes. 

"That's what is nice about the CAST; the instructor can simulate a broken wire or inoperative component, and something in the cockpit will stop working," he said. "The students get hands-on experience trouble-shooting the problem and finding a solution." 

The new CAST combines several avionics trainer predecessors, some of which were more than 40 years old, said Don Peel, 436th Maintenance Operations Squadron Maintenance Training Flight chief. Both trainers focused on airframe avionics or electronics on the C-5. However, the new trainer supports all of the AMP systems as well as the older pre-AMP systems. 

"It was AMC's intent to make a trainer as closely related to the aircraft as possible. Many of the parts of the trainer are interchangeable with the plane," said Sergeant Ruehr. 

The trainer is comprised of five separate sections including a forward cockpit station, navigator station, an aircraft silhouette, an avionics station and an instructor station. 

The cockpit station of the trainer mimics the C-5 flightdeck as closely as possible, said Sergeant Ruehr. 

According to a CAST fact sheet, the cockpit is full scale, has six working multi-function display units and two of three multi-function control units. It also has pilot seats so students can practice working in the actual space available on the plane. 

The navigator station is exactly what would be seen on a C-5, said Sergeant Ruehr. It has a modified intercom system monitor and control panels and provides an interface to the embedded global positioning system. 

The aircraft silhouette station emulates C-5 flight control surface movement. The movable flight controls include: ailerons (roll), elevators and horizontal stabilizer (pitch), and rudder (yaw). Movement of the surfaces is controlled by various automatic flight control systems or manual operator inputs from the flight station. The simulator serves two purposes - to stress safety practices between a ground observer and flight station and confirmation of proper surface movement during operational checks. 

The avionics station is the largest section of the trainer. It matches the airframe from the wiring down to the ventilation duct work. It has two aircraft avionics bays for storing pieces of the C-5 AMP system, pieces similar to the tower of a desktop computer. It also includes non-avionics equipment, like the duct work which causes interference similar to what a maintainer faces on the flightline. 

"On the duct there is a connector which many maintainers have injured themselves on," said Sergeant Ruehr. "They will be working in this small space then stand up quickly and bump their head. We included it so students get practice avoiding it and don't hurt themselves on the flightline." 

The instructor station is connected to every section of the trainer and the teacher can input 193 different faults into the system, or break the system 193 different ways, said Sergeant Ruehr. 

The CAST will be used to certify Airmen who are already working on the flightline for the maintenance of C-5 AMP equipment without the use of an operational aircraft, according to the fact sheet. 

It will also be used to qualify future maintainers who are still in technical school working on obtaining their basic 3-level badges. 

Sergeant Ruehr expects to have flightline Airmen using the trainer by October and technical school students by November. 

This is an example of how AMC and AETC incorporate innovation into training to prepare warfighters to complete the mission.