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C-5 Maintenance

Warner Robins Air Logistics Center's C-5 Maintenance Directorate at Robins Air Force Base performs programmed depot maintenance (PDM) and modifications for the Active and Air Reserve components' fleet of 126 C-5s. The directorate serves as a seller of repaired aircraft, aircraft systems, and modifications utilizing both civil service employees and contract field teams. The C-5 workload which was being completed at San Antonio ALC (SA-ALC), Kelly AFB, Texas, was offered for competitive bid between the DOD and private companies as a result of the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission recommendation to close SA-ALC and to redistribute its workload to other depots or private companies. Dr. Sheila E. Widnall, Secretary of the Air Force (SAF), during a 4 September 1997 news conference, announced the results of the competition: "The source Selection Authority . . . selected Warner Robins Air Logistics Center as the successful offeror." The Center's bid was about 6-7 percent less than the next lowest offeror, Boeing Company (McDonnell Douglas had offered the bid but had since became a part of Boeing) and Lockheed Martin which had also bid on the C-5 workload. According to Darleen A. Druyan, Principal Deputy Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and Management (SAF/AQ), the Center's payroll would increase by about 725 employees as a result of the C-5 workload. The seven-year contract was valued at 434 million dollars. Additionally, the government would save 190 million dollars over what it would have cost to keep the contract in place at SA-ALC.

AMC developed a mission capability rate goal for the C-5 fleet of 75 percent, which means that C-5s must be able to perform one of their major missions 75 percent of the time. Mission capability is a standard used on all military aircraft that allows for easier comparisons among aircraft. C-5 mission capable rates are considerably below those of other military airlift aircraft, including the C-141, KC-10, and KC-135. In recent years, between one-quarter and one-half of the C-5 total not mission capable time was due to the lack of spare parts. Mission capable rates for AMC C-5 aircraft averaged just under 68 percent from July 1994 to June 1995. These rates have been declining since Operation Desert Storm, when AMC achieved mission capable rates of 75 percent or higher.

Declines in mission capability rates of the C-5 Galaxy -- how many of the 126-aircraft fleet are available at any given time -- has prompted senior Air Force leadership to take a hard look at ways to improve the availability and sustainability of the Air Force's largest transport. Many factors have contributed to the trend. Officials from the C-5 manufacturer believe that improving the C-5 spares processes, particularly by scheduling repairs of spare parts based on their impact on mission capability, could substantially improve the mission capable rate.

In mid-2000 Air Mobility Command and Air Force Materiel Command commanders directed the formation of a Tiger Team to identify opportunities to improve the availability, reliability, and maintainability of the aircraft; all factors in the C-5's mission capability. The team will attempt to delineate and place into context all of the issues, separating those within the Air Force's control from those beyond their control which must be considered. Their approach will be to take a comprehensive, fresh look at governing policies, maintenance and repair procedures, and best practices by conducting field surveys at home stations and supporting depots. The team will identify problems, generate solutions, and make recommendations for long-term and short-term improvements, and also seek to develop performance measures that will support an integrated C-5 balanced scorecard.

As of early 2001 the C-5 had a mission capable rate of only 58 percent. Shortfalls in strategic airlift resulted from the slow phase-out of C-141 aircraft and their replacement with C-17 aircraft and from lower than optimal reliability rates for the C-5 aircraft. One of the primary causes of these reliability rates for C -5 aircraft, and especially for operational unit aircraft, is the shortage of spare repair parts. Since 1995 this shortage was particularly evident in the C-5 fleet. NMCS (Not Mission Capable for Supply) rates for C-5 aircraft increased significantly in the period between 1997 and 1999. At Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, an average of 7 through 9 C-5 aircraft were not available during that period because of a lack of parts. Average rates of cannibalization of C-5 aircraft per 100 sorties of such aircraft also increased during that period and were well above the Air Mobility Command standard. In any given month, this meant devoting additional manhours to cannibalizations of C -5 aircraft. At Dover Air Force Base, an average of 800 to 1,000 additional manhours were required for cannibalizations of C-5 aircraft during that period. Cannibalizations were often required for aircraft that transit through a base such as Dover Air Force Base, as well as those that are based there. High cannibalization rates indicate a significant problem in delivering spare parts in a timely manner and systemic problems within the repair and maintenance process, and also demoralize overworked maintenance crews.

By the end of September 2001, almost the entire active duty C-5 and C-17 fleet -- a total of about 140 aircraft -- was dedicated to supporting the war effort. However, during a four-day period in late September 2001, one-fifth of the C-5s supporting Enduring Freedom were not mission capable. At one unidentified location where plans had called for no more than 8 C-5s on the ramp at any given time, there were 22 C-5s on the ground, most for repairs. Maintenance problems required devoting additional transport resources to engines and spare parts for the C-5.

Before the war on terrorism, the C-5 was ready to fly an average of 58 percent to 59 percent of the time. Since resources began to flow during the war, the reliability rate rose to 75 percent of the time in some units.



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