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Sun, May 07, 2006

C-5 Recovery Efforts Continue At Dover AFB

One month after a C-5 Galaxy crash-landed less than a mile short of the runway here, recovery operations are proceeding on schedule, officials said. All 17 people on board survived the April 3 crash.

“We started the recovery effort the same day of the mishap and have been working every day since,” said Maj. Rob Triplett, the 436th Maintenance Squadron commander and director of the mishap recovery effort. “Safety has been our number-one priority. Our team’s primary focus, besides safety, was to preserve vital evidence for the safety investigation board.”

An 11-person team from the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., along with C-5 engineers and maintenance personnel from Dover are conducting a thorough recovery of the aircraft.

“The most difficult part is coming up with all the variables and solutions to problems,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jon Lynn, 436th MXS superintendent.

“It takes teamwork to get everybody together to decide what the best plan and the best course of action are to take.”

Recovery efforts included removing the remaining fuel, the engines, the left wing tip and cargo.

“Some fuel was spilled, but we were able to recover the majority of the fuel from the aircraft itself,” Major Triplett said. “Protecting the environment and protecting the community are high priorities. (The community's) safety is of the utmost importance.”

The base is coordinating with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control concerning any environmental clean-up issues.

“The agreement at this point is that once the aircraft and the parts are gone, we will do a full assessment in close coordination with DNREC to make a decision on what type of remediation methods will be used for the cleanup,” said Lt. Col. Mark Ruse, the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

The nose section was moved first to make room for equipment to level the aircraft, Major Triplett said. The airframe needed to be stabilized to remove the cargo and engines. Hydraulic jacks were used to level the aircraft, which was supported by more than 1,000 railroad ties.

“We were able to remove the cargo," the major said. "Any cargo that was damaged will go back to the shipping activity to be either repaired or replaced. The cargo that was undamaged was put back into the system for movement to its destination.”

The crew compartment, weighing more than 13,000 pounds, was removed with a crane. Once it is released by the accident investigation board, the compartment is expected to be used as a training simulator at Robins, Major Triplett said.

When the board releases the aircraft, recovery experts anticipate they will be able to reuse approximately 1,100 parts after they have undergone extensive inspections. The remainder of the aircraft will be salvaged on site, the major said.

Heavy equipment such as cranes, forklifts and high-reach vehicles is being used to remove and salvage the aircraft. Experts also are using power saws to cut up the structure.

All parts of the aircraft will remain on the site until released by the accident investigation board. Once investigations are complete, results should be released three months later. [ANN Salutes Staff Sgt. James Wilkinson, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs]

FMI: www.af.mil

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