First heavy maintenance cycle complete for SAC C-17s

22 July 2015

This week marks another impressive milestone achievement for the NAM Programme Office.  Aircraft ‘SAC-03’ returned to full operational status with the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) and flew back from the Boeing Aerospace Support Center in San Antonio, Texas, USA to Pápa Air Base, Hungary.

This completes a 10+ MUSD, one year-long programme of scheduled depot level maintenance work on the C-17 fleet of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) that has been concluded successfully, on time, under budget and with minimal disruption to HAW’s operations. 

Each C-17A Globemaster III aircraft undergoes depot maintenance and modifications every five years.  The work assures C-17A’s continued safety, sustains its record availability rates and preserves full interoperability between the world’s 272 flying C-17A. All the C-17A’s flight controls are removed and refurbished, its structure and systems are inspected, and the whole aircraft is repainted. Also, during the four-month downtime per aircraft modifications are added that provide new capabilities and that pre-empt many perennial problems otherwise caused by parts-obsolescence.

As a member of the 8-nation C-17A owners’ partnership called the “C-17 Global Virtual Fleet” the NAM Programme Office obtains for the SAC member nations significantly discounted prices at one of the world’s premier advanced military aviation facilities; the same facility supporting US Government fleets – including “Air Force One.”

The NAM Programme Office began planning and budgeting for this project in 2011 and from 2013 onwards, led increasingly detailed coordination of the work programme and schedules with the Hungarian National Transport Authority (who renews the aircraft airworthiness certificates), the HAW (for operational impacts), and with the USAF and their Boeing contractor who do the work.

The NAM Integrated Project Team (IPT) managed the whole programme, including tracking the daily progress and approving the inevitable small work adjustments and payments, and finally accepting the completed work. With only 3 C-17A aircraft in the SAC fleet it was imperative to minimize the aircraft downtime and the impact on HAW’s operations.  This ”total team-effort” ensured the HAW’s busy SAC mission schedule never missed a beat.

“SAC’s C-17A are now at the top-level ‘Block 19’ standard for C-17A and have modifications that prepare  them to meet the mandatory deadlines set by Europe (Single European Skies initiative) and the USA (Next Gen initiative) for the global modernization of all Air Traffic Management systems”, highlighted Mr Trevor Burke, NAM IPT Leader and SAC C-17A Type Technical Manager.