***image1******image2***The first Ramstein C-130 to undergo refurbishment in Lisbon, Portugal returned March 19 bringing with it a fresh relationship with the Portuguese and a promising start to the aircraft refurbishment program.
The program is designed to inspect the aircraft’s structure in the cockpit and cargo compartment, replace insulation throughout the aircraft and institute the night operation-compliant grey interior maximizing combat capabilities.
Although this is the first time Ramstein has contracted extensive work through them, Oficinas Gerais de Material Aeronáutico, has been performing maintenance on C-130s for many decades.
Ramstein discovered the Portuguese company OGMA, a depot-level contractor, through a NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency.
A full scale refurbishment at Ramstein, a 35 work day job, isn’t possible due to hangar space and with Germany’s environmental restrictions, said Capt. Matt Gamblin, 86th Maintenance Squadron operations officer. The wing is not authorized to spray enough paint to permit large-scope projects such as a refurbishment, but OGMA provides a way to get extensive maintenance performed without the need to fly back to the states.
The refurbishment is more than cosmetic.
“Refurbishment is more then making a plane look good. It affects the life expectancy and gives us a higher functionality of the aircraft. There is no substitute for proactive maintenance,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Mardis, 86th MXS commander.
Senior Airman Ryan Conti, assistant dedicated crew chief of the first refurbished plane, said the new modifications make it easier to access everything. “It’s nice to get a ‘brand new plane’ and make it clean. It’s definitely better then getting a ‘dirty bird.’ It’s exciting and the plane’s beautiful.”
Besides what’s being accomplished at OGMA, the 86th MXG is also working at home to improve both interior and exterior appearance. Among other things, Combat Flightline’s aircraft monthly competition has resulted in the dedicated crew chiefs demanding more and more appearance upgrades during our isochronal inspections (scheduled maintenance), which is a win-win situation, said Captain Gamblin.
“It is a very exciting time seeing the progress and enthusiasm as we improve appearance, while flying at an incredible 65-hour utilization rate some months on 39-year-old aircraft,” said Col. L. Parker Plumb II, 86th Maintenance Group commander. “We should be halfway through refurbishing our C-130E fleet by the end of this year, and our number one goal next year will be to finish out the fleet, if we receive the funding.”
Col. Rob Kane, 86th Airlift Wing commander, took the time to tour the OGMA facility and fly back Ramstein’s first refurbished aircraft. The commander was impressed not only by the contractor’s work, but the Ramstein maintainers’ comprehensive approach to maintaining its C-130s.
“This is a perfect example of taking Combat Flightline to its fullest extent,” Colonel Kane said. “The 86th Maintenance Group’s focus on our fleet’s health and condition will undoubtedly reap significant improvements in aircraft performance and reliability.”
Currently a total of eight C-130s are scheduled for refurbishment throughout the year.