By Joseph Mather, Robins Air Force Base / Published September 11, 2020
A Boeing flight crew flew the C-17 back to the aircraft’s home station at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, to resume the aircraft’s mission to train future flight crews after the 562nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at the WR-ALC finished its modifications to the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast Out.
“The ADS-B Out is a newer type of broadcast system that provides precise position and location information of an aircraft in real time to air traffic control,” said Anthony Scott, Avionics supervisor in the 562nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
“The older system would have to be interrogated by ATC to activate a response from the aircraft flight computer,” he continued. “The new system automatically sends aircraft data every few minutes.”
This will bring the Air Force into compliance with the FAA’s Jan. 1, 2020, mandate to have ADS-B Out installed in all Air Force aircraft.
“Since 2017, 55 C-17 aircraft received their ADS-B Out upgrades at Robins Air Force Base during their scheduled Program Depot Maintenance,” said Scott. “This upgrade brings the Air Force on board with civilian aviation worldwide.”
The ADS-B Out modification included additional software updates.
“An Identification of Friend or Foe and other communication and navigation capability software updates were included,” said Scott. “The IFF upgrade better enables the aircraft to identify a friendly aircraft versus a threat during a mission and enables the aircrew to react accordingly to nearby aircraft,” said Scott. “The system will enhance aircrew safety and help prevent aircraft mishaps.”
The upgraded systems provide more than location information to ATC.
“The ADS-B Out system interfaces with all the aircraft systems,” said Scott. “The system then sends the aircraft performance, such as engine data and flight control information, in real-time to ATC tracking the aircraft.”
According to Darren Carson, 562nd AMXS Industrial Production manager, the ADS-B Out system increases aircraft safety by providing better visibility for aircrews to track and manage nearby aircraft. Carson said the system will follow better routes, which will save time and bring cost savings to the Air Force.
With 55 C-17 aircraft receiving the upgrades, the 562nd AMXS came together to better themselves along with the aircraft.
“The team performance was excellent throughout the upgrade process,” said Scott. “We utilized our guys in their specific areas of expertise and used this opportunity to cross train members of our team in areas they would not normally work, I think our team did a wonderful job.”
And it wasn’t just a 562nd effort to accomplish this feat. Many teams collaborated on this project to complete the 55 aircraft modifications in less than three years.
“It has been a team effort across the command,” said Dennis D’Angelo, Air Force Sustainment Center executive director. “Members of the C-17 program office, maintainers, Foreign Military sales, Boeing and the Air Force have collaborated together to ensure the ADS-B Out modifications were completed. The completion of these modifications means we’re taking care of the warfighter, and we are also taking care of our people.”