Collins Aerospace [RTX] received DoD recognition in January for a performance-based logistics (PBL) effort that is projected to save the Air Force $117 million in sustainment costs on wheels and brakes for the F-16 fighter and C-130 transport, as the company looks for other PBL/carbon reutilization opportunities for the brake and wheel systems on F-15 fighters and other platforms.
“Implementing carbon reutilization, the F-16 program team achieved a savings of $2.39 million in year one (16. 7 percent over the status quo) and an overall total program savings of $87.8 million,” per the Jan. 21 announcement of DoD PBL winners for 2020 by acting Pentagon acquisition chief Stacy Cummings. “Total cost avoidance for both the F-16 and C-130 is projected to be $117 million for the life of the contract.”
LeeAnn Kuehnert, Collins Aerospace’s value stream leader for the company’s military landing systems program, said that Collins Aerospace had to go through a several month long government audit to receive approval to handle the Air Force assets, store them and track them in the DoD inventory system to forecast F-16 and C-130 brake and wheel sustainment needs ahead of time–a practice commonly used for commercial aircraft fleets.
In addition to the handling and inventory approval process for Collins Aerospace to do the wheel and brake sustainment work at its facility in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., the company also had to go through a six-month long process to qualify the re-use of carbon on the aircraft’s worn out brakes for the remanufactured brake system.
The aircraft braking uses a “heat stack” or “heat sink” of a number of two-inch thick rotor discs to convert kinetic energy to heat energy to stop the plane.
The Pentagon said in its award announcement to Collins Aerospace that the F-16 and C-130 wheel and brake PBL team “developed an innovative process to move from a transactional to performance based outcome achieving immediate cost savings utilizing commercial best practices while maintaining 100 percent warfighter support.”
Kuehnert said that the F-16 PBL effort is “first and foremost a carbon-based PBL.”
“The Air Force will forecast the landings,” she said. “We will forecast the entire materials and supply chain for a five-year period, which is predominantly the F-16 program. We had to go through a qualification program and convince the Air Force we could employ the carbon re-utilization on both the F-16 and the C-130.”
The Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill AFB sends the worn brakes and carbon to Collins Aerospace in Santa Fe Springs for the remanufacture.
“Forecasting how much carbon you’re going to need is a long process in order to build these [brake] discs up to the right thickness in order to put them on an aircraft and stop it,” Kuehnert said. “They [the brake discs] stay on wing for, in the case of C-130 with the flying hours, up to 10 years so they are on the aircraft for quite some time.”
Collins Aerospace builds wheels and brakes for the Air Force F-15, C-5 Galaxy, F-16, and C-130 fleets, including more than half of all active C-130s globally, and has done wheel and brake upgrades for several foreign air forces, the company said.
“Collins’ C-130 brakes, which feature its proprietary DURACARB® carbon heat sink material, allow for 2,000 landings per overhaul compared to 250 landings per overhaul for the C-130’s legacy system,” per Collins Aerospace. “That’s a lifespan that’s eight times longer, significantly reducing maintenance time and cost.”