The 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, part of the Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California, who maintain the US Air Force’s largest aircraft, the C-5M Super Galaxy, contacted the JFWORX team seeking assistance to increase the safety and decrease the manpower requirements of the current tire-changing process.
The researchers invented a device that reduces the number of people needed to change a C-5M tire from five to three.
Each C-5 tire wears down approximately 0.002 inches per landing on an aircraft that has 28 tires. The current tire changing method is performed several times a week. It is a complicated multistep procedure that requires up to five people working together for an extended period of time with a number of safety risks due to the size and weight of the tires and tools.
The design of the hub consists of a single large nut that holds the wheel in place. Heavy tools ensure placement of the wheel (almost 4 feet in diameter). The spanner wrench, used to tighten the nut, weighs 15 pounds and has to be held accurately in position so the nut can be tightened to the appropriate torque specification.
There is currently no worthwhile technique to position and hold the heavy spanner wrench in place on the nut while tightening. The torque required to hold the wheel on the plane while using the long torque wrench exacerbates the problem, causing the spanner wrench to roll off the nut when an abundance of force is applied.
The current method of engaging the spanner wrench involves a maintainer who has to lay on the ground while pressing their feet against the wrench to hold it in place. This method can cause faulty torque readings along with placing the maintainer in an awkward and risky position underneath the heavy spanner wrench.
The AFRL JFWORX team has invented a new tool that allows a single airman to position and secure the spanner wrench in place, making it easier and safer to tighten the wheel. A footplate and an upright handle allow a single maintainer to apply a large axial force against the spanner wrench, keeping it seated while torque is applied.
By reducing the manpower required to handle and position the spanner wrench, the entire tire change process now takes only three maintainers. The new spanner wrench support also includes features designed into the face plate to allow for the use of various spanner wrenches.
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