When it comes to aviation fuel, the C-17 Globemaster III utilization rate makes it stand out as the largest consumer in the U.S. Air Force. This is why a team at the 418th Flight Test Squadron has been working for the past year on the Air Force Research Laboratory’s C-17 Drag Reduction Program.
The 418th FLTS is currently wrapping up testing with the final three phases – out of five total – using 3-D printed parts by Lockheed Martin. The Lockheed Martin installations use a combination of laser positioning for locating and sealant to bond the parts to the aircraft. The laser positioning allowed the team to skip the design and build of installation tooling that would only be used during flight testing, according to test managers. The bonding simplifies the installation and more importantly leaves the aircraft in its pre-test condition after removal at the end of the flight test program.