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AFLCMC led team conducts airflow test on C-17

A team from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s C-17 Program Office, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron, and 437th Airlift Wing, conducted several interior airflow tests on a C-17 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. March 26-30. The tests were designed to collect data and gather information to characterize the C-17’s airflow and ventilation patterns. (Courtesy photo)

A team from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s C-17 Program Office, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron, and 437th Airlift Wing, conducted several interior airflow tests on a C-17 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. March 26-30. The tests were designed to collect data and gather information to characterize the C-17’s airflow and ventilation patterns. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. – Members of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s C-17 Program Office located here, collaborated with a team from the 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES), as well as the 437th Airlift Wing, to conduct several interior airflow tests on a C-17 aircraft at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. March 26-30.

To support efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams collected data and gathered information to characterize the C-17’s airflow and ventilation patterns.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increased urgency to transport patients internationally, and the C-17 provides a unique capability to support this mission.

Previously, there was a lack of real-world data, and computational models capable of characterizing the C-17’s cargo aircraft cabin ventilation. 

The test team collected data and gathered information on how air flows within the aircraft in order to increase the capability, and capacity of the C-17 to transport infectious patients and passengers.

The C-17 Program Office, represented by Scott Brantley, C-17 Systems Engineering Section Chief, and 2nd Lt Yae-Eun Chung, C-17 Program Manager, coordinated with members of the 28th TES, including Capt. Conor Favo, Vic Arca, Dallas Cook, and Joel Huddleston, along with Joint Base Charleston’s Maintenance Special Operations Flight (MASOP) crew, to gather information through numerous different evaluations on the C-17.

Eleven tests were completed over the duration of four days, to include several rounds of ground testing, varying the levels of aircraft pressurization, to evaluate the levels of aerosol detected throughout the aircraft under these conditions.

The 28th TES provided equipment, to included aerosol generator systems and photometers, which was used to determine how the aerosol circulated in the cargo and crew compartment.

With the data collected, an in-depth understanding of how airflows inside the aircraft can be used to determine where contaminants introduced into the aircraft are likely to be deposited and accumulated within the aircraft and the level of protective personnel equipment required to protect the C-17 flight crew.

Experts from a number of agencies including the Air Force Research Laboratory, Army Public Health, and University of Nebraska Medical Center will model and analyze the data to understand the potential coronavirus movement inside the aircraft during a C-17 mission transporting COVID-19 patients.

“The C-17 provides our nation a unique capability for strategic aeromedical transportation,” said Col. Scott Ekstrom, senior materiel leader for C-17 Program Office. “Understanding airflow inside the C-17 is key to effective use of this capability in support of COVID-19 missions. Through control of the airflow and the appropriate personal protection equipment, we can drive down the coronavirus exposure risk and protect our aircrews so they are healthy for the next mission, and can go home to their families.”