Crash Lab adds heavies
By Keith Wright, Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs
/ Published October 19, 2018
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Over the past few weeks, the remains of three heavy aircraft have arrived at the Air Force Safety Center Crash Lab on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico to enhance the hands-on portion of the Aircraft Mishap Investigation Course.
The addition of a C-17 Globemaster III, B-52 Stratofortress, and KC-135 Stratotanker to the 29-acre site will increase AFSEC’s capability to train future mishap investigators by turning lessons learned from previous mishaps into teaching tools to prevent the next mishap.
Through the years, student feedbacks have included comments on their desire to see a diversity of current aircraft wreckage at the crash lab, specifically mentioning heavy aircraft.
These aircraft will be the first refueling, bomber and mobility aircraft to be included at the crash lab amongst other airframes like the MQ-1 Predator, F-16 Fighting Falcon, T-38 Talon, A-10 Warthog, HH-1H helicopter and a debris fragment from a reentered Delta Stage 3.
"This is the largest update to the crash lab since 1993," said Lt. Col. (select) Richard Couture, deputy chief of the AFSEC Training and Force Development Division. "The more than 342,000 pounds of debris will take up almost 10 acres of space."
In order to support the addition of these large aircraft to the crash lab the infrastructure needed to be reinforced with the addition of a new road and drainage pipes out to the debris field.
"Access to the debris field was a challenge identified by AFSEC’s Doug Tracy, retired, during initial planning about two years ago," said Couture. "The 377th Civil Engineering and 210th RED HORSE Squadrons went above and beyond our expectations when they created a new access road through the debris field for these aircraft shipments."
"We could not have accomplished this without a total force effort from our active duty, guard and civilian teammates," said Couture.
The B-52 and KC-135 aircraft remains arrived from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, while the C-17 was delivered from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The wreckage will be laid out to duplicate the original mishaps, in both scale and investigative clues. Additionally, course material will be revised to incorporate a mishap investigation lab utilizing the wreckage.
Students learn about safety investigations during the classroom-based portion of the course and then proceed to the crash lab to apply what they've learned in a blended approach.
"Enhanced knowledge, skills, and ability gained from access to these aircraft in a learning environment significantly contribute to mishap prevention," said Gwendolyn Dooley, chief of AFSEC's Training and Force Development Division. "Air Force Safety is in the business of preventing mishaps, so while AFSEC gains capabilities from the wreckage, the overall Air Force benefits."
Over the last three years, an average of just over 500 Airmen assigned to safety staffs and/or supporting safety Air Force-wide go through AMIC every year.
"Our goal is to develop skilled investigators who will be able to identify factors, analyze findings and develop recommendations that will prevent future Air Force mishaps," said Michael Gann, chief of AFSEC's Training Instruction Branch. "Ultimately, contributing to the mission of the Safety Center – safeguarding Airmen, protecting resources and preserving combat capability."