Growing Pains

The Air Force’s C-27 fleet was grounded at the end of December after the discovery of metal shavings inside the fuel cells of all eight aircraft in the service’s inventory, officials told the Daily Report. It’s not yet clear what caused the problem, but officials said they expect “it’s something left over from the manufacturing process,” considering that’s the apparent common thread across all eight aircraft, said Col. Gary Akins, the Air National Guard’s acting deputy director of air, space, and air operations. The three aircraft assigned to Robins AFB, Ga., have since been cleared to fly, but last we heard, the Spartans assigned to the ANG’s 179th Airlift Wing at Mansfield Lahm Airport in Ohio, and the two aircraft undergoing pre-delivery modifications at contractor L3’s plant in Waco, Tex., remained grounded as workers waited on spare parts. The desire to get the mini tactical airlifters to Afghanistan is great and Guard officials said they are feeling the “pressure” to deploy the first aircraft to theater in March. But the grounding delayed some much-needed training time for the Air Guard aircrews, who are still learning the ins and outs of the new aircraft. USAF is building a fleet of 38 C-27s for the Air Guard. (See also The Little Airlifter That Could from Air Force Magazine’s 2010 archive)