All KC-10 Extender Refueling Aircraft Affected by Slide-Raft Issue: Air Force

A row of de-iced U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extenders at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., March 3, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)
A row of de-iced U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extenders at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., March 3, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)

The U.S. Air Force is still inspecting its KC-10 Extender fleet weeks after one of the aircraft experienced slide-raft deployment issues, Air Mobility Command officials said.

The issue affects the service's entire fleet of 59 KC-10 refueling aircraft, which are stationed at Travis Air Force Base, California, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, AMC spokesman Maj. Bryon McGarry told on Friday.

"Our maintenance and engineering experts continue to investigate the root causes for the slide-raft issue," McGarry said in an email.

He could not provide a timeline for the conclusion of inspections or a fix for the problem. Inspectors and maintenance personnel have not yet found a singular root cause for the problem, McGarry said.

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"Upon completion of the investigation, we'll be able to provide more info as to how many aircraft require targeted maintenance and how long that maintenance will take," he added.

Refueling operations continue globally, and the Air Force has not ordered a stand-down or pause of any kind, McGarry said. "Fleet analysis shows this issue is only applicable to the KC-10 fleet."

Although the slide raft is the primary way for crews to exit the aircraft in an emergency, airmen "are trained on secondary egress procedures so it doesn't affect their ability to conduct worldwide operations," he said.

In May, a KC-10 Extender at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst had an emergency on the ground, during which the slide rafts failed to deploy.

A KC-10 "aborted takeoff due to smoke in the flight deck, causing the crew to evacuate the aircraft," AMC spokesman Col. Chris Karns told at the time. However, the slide rafts failed to inflate.

The Air Force began a series of "confidence checks" on its KC-10 fleet. The tests turned up additional incidents, AMC said.

"During additional slide-raft deployment attempts, two failed, so the enterprise decided to conduct a deeper evaluation to identify the specific cause of failure," Karns said at the time.

In all, there were four failures, he said: two separate cases of the slides not deploying during the May 20 incident; one incident at Travis; and another involving a McGuire-based aircraft receiving depot maintenance in Greensboro, North Carolina.

As a result of the check failures, the investigation was accelerated and deepened, Karns said.

Given the problems with the KC-10 fleet, the Air Force reduced space-available travel for family and service members.

Space-A travel remains scaled back, McGarry said Friday. "Space-A flights remain restricted pending completion of the investigation and associated necessary repair actions."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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