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36th CES completes flightline barrier certification

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony Jennings
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron's power production shop successfully completed the barrier certification on the flightline process June 19.

The barrier arresting kit, otherwise known as BAK-12, is designed to save lives and prevent a potential crash during emergency landings and departures. It requires annual certification to ensure that it's operationally safe.

"With barriers, there is no margin for error," said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Ashbeck, Power Production barrier maintenance NCO-in-charge. "This is multi-million dollar aircraft and the pilot's life at stake."

An F-22 Raptor was used for the certification in a scenario resembling an actual in-flight emergency.

The jet released an arm with a hook extending down from behind the landing gear which is used to catch a cable called a pendant. The pendant stretches down the width of the runway where it is then connected to a wide, flat cable resembling a deflated fire hose known as barrier tape.

As the hook snagged the pendant, the barrier tape follows, unwinding reels housed in two Aircraft Arresting Systems positioned on both sides of the runway.

With pre-tension on it, the pendant is held in place by brakes at 175 pounds per square inch. When something exceeds 175 PSI, the brakes become undone and the tape unwinds. The F-22 Raptor was traveling at 104 mph, catching the pendant with 60,000 lbs of force.

A hydraulic component spins within the AAS so as it reaches its apex, the pressure increases which is the stopping force for the aircraft.

"Both sides of the barriers have to be synchronized to each other, sort of like synchronized swimmers," Sergeant Ashbeck said. "If they aren't on the same sheet of music one will pull out faster or more than the other which could cause the plane to veer to the left or right and go into the grass causing major damage."

The Power production shop is responsible for maintaining the barriers through daily, weekly, monthly and annual inspections.

"I'm very excited to see both barriers certified for our recently reconstructed runway," said Maj. Gretchen Anderson, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight commander.

"The power pro shop has done an excellent job staying on top the barriers, making sure everything was setup and ready to go."

Base operations, airfield management and fire department worked in conjunction with power production to make the certification possible. The key point everyone focused on was the fact if the barriers fail, lives could be lost.

"Any time a plane takes to the cable there is the 'what-if' factor," Sergeant Ashbeck said. "Did I do this, did I do that? But once the plane does take it, all those mundane tasks of the daily, weekly and monthly inspections make it worth it to see the system working like it is supposed to."

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