DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
Four Total Force maintenance squadrons’ efforts culminated in conducting the first C-5M Super Galaxy engine change in six years Sept. 8, 2020.
Typically C-5M engine changes are conducted by contractors. But in this case, Total Force Airmen performed the engine change in order to gauge their capabilities and test the partnership and procedure with a new contractor.
Active-duty and reserve maintenance Airmen from Dover AFB, Scott AFB, Travis AFB and Westover Air Reserve Base came together to train and accomplish this mission. This was the first time in recent history that Total Force Airmen collaborated on this type of project on Dover Air Force Base.
“This is, to my knowledge, the first time a team from across the command, to include reserve Airmen from Westover have come together for an engine change,” said Brett Elledge, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron operations manager. “This was seen as a great training event since C-5 engines are so reliable and rarely changed across the fleet.”
The removal of the engine consists of attaching a pulley system above the engine, disconnecting the securing system, winching a bracket from a pylon up to the engine and lowering the engine back to the pylon cradle.
“This allows us to demount the engine instead of taking it all apart at once,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Feith, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-5M navigation communications technician. “Instead of just fixing one part, it allows us to completely replace the engine and send out the old engine to another facility.”
With the engine weighing approximately five to six tons and costing millions, the maintainers need to use their winches in unison to prevent any drops.
“This engine is 15.5 million dollars, so it’s extremely important to be precise,” said Feith. “I think this is also one of those rare training opportunities that we get that we shouldn’t ignore.”
The Total Force operation provided training opportunities for several Airmen from various units and bases, ensuring the success of future engine changes.
“I think it’s a really good thing to do joint training, because a lot of different units are bringing in different knowledge of what they do and what they’ve seen,” said Tech. Sgt. Peter Lucier, 439th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron jet engine mechanic propulsion specialist. “Westover is starting to get C-5M models, so it’s been invaluable for us.”
The 373rd Training Squadron, which is responsible for training Airmen on C-5M engine change operations throughout the Air Force, operated as supervisors during the change. Despite having conducted the change in a training environment multiple times, the real-world application came with challenges.
“As instructors, we are used to taking the lead and showing our students before they jump into a task,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Money, 373rd Training Squadron C-5M engine instructor. “In this case, that was not the point; we were to simply help when needed, which once we got used to this, it became easier, and things ran smoothly.”
With the potential for more Airmen taking the lead on engine changes, this operation is important for the future of C-5M maintainers across AMC.
“Joint partnership projects are critical to sustain weapon systems such as the C-5M throughout the Total Force because it allows us to capitalize on unique opportunities that otherwise would only be experienced by a few,” said Senior Master Sgt. Alex Asenciosoto, 373rd Training Squadron detachment superintendent. “Our ability to operate in a joint environment depends heavily on how well we communicate with others, how well we train, and how well we execute our joint missions. It definitely gives us the competitive advantage and the flexibility in order to retain air superiority.”