ALC repairs firefighting C-130 after emergency landing

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The 572nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, like other squadrons within the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, sometimes does “drop-in” work on C-130 Hercules aircraft, adding them into their repair schedule where possible.

On Oct. 7, the unit did a final flight check on a C-130 that literally dropped in a year before — that is, made an emergency landing on the Hill AFB runway with its nose gear stuck in the wheel well — and remained here for repairs.

It all started on Aug. 17, 2014, when the crew of aircraft 92-1533, a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System C-130, belonging to the Wyoming Air National Guard, discovered its nose landing gear wouldn’t extend.

“It wasn’t scheduled to land at Hill,” said Jack Clay, 572nd aircraft lead mechanic, one of the 30-plus people who worked on the plane. “They were working on a firefighting assignment when the emergency occurred. I’m amazed at how the pilot handled the airplane.”

With fire department and emergency crews standing by, the aircraft landed in a bed of fire-retardant foam around 1 p.m. No one was injured and the runway wasn’t damaged.

“The pilot made a smooth landing,” recalled William Ferrell, a C-130 crew chief and a member of the Crash Damage, Disabled and Recovery Team. “The only damage was to the underside of the aircraft.”

Ferrell and eight others used a crane to lift the front of the aircraft, tow it to a maintenance area and secure it with an emergency nose landing gear extension, a process that took a little more than four hours, which minimized the time the runway was closed.

Following a five-month investigation into the cause, it was determined that a broken support rod for the landing gear uplock actuator caused the failure. This damage eventually led to a fleet-wide inspection and resulted in identifying several other defective rods in the C-130 fleet.

Repairs included replacing the landing gear, floorboards and rails, and the sheet metal crews had to rebuild several parts of the 23-year-old airplane including its exterior skin. The entire forward belly section of the aircraft had to be rebuilt, Clay said.

“The heat generated by the landing melted the wiring harnesses in the belly of the aircraft, so our electricians had to completely rebuild and replace them,” Clay added. “It was a big team effort within the 572nd.”

A 35-member crew of sheet metal mechanics, general aircraft mechanics, electricians, planners, structural engineers, crash damage recovery experts, supply chain management, material expeditors, and representatives from Defense Logistics Agency Aviation and Lockheed Martin helped get the aircraft flying again.

“We followed the AFSC Leadership Model to rebuild and successfully return the aircraft to the customer,” said David Mann, 572 AMXS Squadron Director. “We all shared a common goal of getting the aircraft back in the fight as soon as possible. Our highly skilled artisans focused on removing constraints from the processes of repairing a crash damaged aircraft by maximizing all the resources available to them throughout Team Hill.”

The maintenance team focused on speed, quality, safety and cost effectiveness.

“Through the efforts of the logisticians and maintainers the aircraft was completed in a timely manner, under budget and was built utilizing the highest quality standards,” Mann said. “In fact, all systems checked ‘good’ on the very first functional check flight. It truly was a remarkable performance by the entire team.”

The C-130 was returned to its unit, the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming ANG, on Oct. 13. The MAFFS 3 air tanker is used for water and fire retardant bombing of fires throughout the United States, according to a 153rd fact sheet. 

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