How Air Force maintainers get a plane flying again after a lightning strike

  • An Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft was struck by lightning during a flight in the Central Command area of responsibility.
  • With help from other personnel, team of maintainers was able to replace the C-17's damaged parts, returning the airlifter to operational status.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron facilitated a maintenance recovery team (MRT) from the 305th Maintenance Squadron, McGuire Air Force Base, to remove and replace components of a C-17 Globemaster III belonging to Charleston Air Force Base, July 7.

During a flight to a deployed location in the Central Command area of responsibility, lightning struck the aircraft on one of its winglets. The lightning then traveled to the aircraft tail, damaging both the winglet tip and one of the elevators.

Due to the limited resources at the destination, the on-scene team conducted a one-time-flight temporary repair to get the aircraft to Ramstein where the MRT conducted the maintenance.

"There were two spots that got blown out," said Tech. Sgt. Natalie Collins, 305th MXS home-station inspection dock controller. "There's a spot on the right-hand winglet, so we had to change that out, and then the worst of it was up on the elevator."

Over the course of a week utilizing cranes and a cherry picker, the team removed the winglet and elevator, replacing both to bring the aircraft to operational status.

"This is not a job you do every single day," Collins said. "It feels good to do something that's a little bit heavier maintenance than normal."

The removal and replacement of the winglet and elevator could not have been successful without teamwork. Airmen from the 721st AMXS provided suggestions and Ramstein's civil engineer airmen provided the crane which was a crucial part of the mission.

"I like input," said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Pennington, 305th MXS aero repair technician. "Some of those guys stepped up to help. Some of their ideas made this go smoother."

When asked about the importance of restoring the aircraft to operational status, Pennington said it allows the Air Force to get the men and women serving in deployed locations back home to their families.

"I think it's been sitting here for 18 days, so that's one less asset the Air Force has and one less asset that Charleston has," Pennington said. "I thought it was interesting and cool that McGuire got to work on a Charleston jet. To me, that's that whole team-unity, big-Air Force picture."

Thanks to the joint effort, the airmen restored the aircraft to operational status enabling air power throughout the area of responsibility.

Source: Read Full Article