Civil engineers ensure barriers can catch wounded ‘birds’

An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron inspect an arresting cable on one of Edwards AFB's runways as part of a certification engagement Jan. 25. Aircraft arresting systems undergo a complete system overhaul every 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

A 412th Civil Engineer Squadron work truck tests an arresting cable on one of Edwards AFB's runways as part of a certification engagement Jan. 25. Aircraft arresting systems undergo a complete system overhaul every 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

A fighter aircraft declares an in-flight emergency. Nature of emergency — hydraulic failure. The pilot decides to land and take the aircraft arresting system, or what is referred to as the “barriers."  

On runways throughout the Air Force, an AAS emergency braking system is designed to bring any tail-hook equipped aircraft to a complete and safe stop in the event of an emergency. If the AAS is required during landing, the pilot drops the aircraft’s arresting hook (tail hook) to catch the arresting cable suspended above the runway surface. As the hook catches the cable, the aircraft continues its travel down the runway while the AAS hydraulic braking system is applied to approximately 175 pounds per square inch to slow the aircraft to a safe stop. Travel distance is allowed by the cable being attached to thick nylon tapes that unspool from storage reels from each of the AASs. Normal payout is at approximately 800-1200 feet.

Edwards AFB has two BAK-12 arresting systems.

The 412th Civil Engineer Squadron recently completed the replacement of one of their AASs.  

“Every BAK-12 AAS must undergo a complete system overhaul every 10 years,” said Murray Westley, 412th CES director.

AASs are overhauled by the Civil Engineer Maintenance Inspection and Repair Team, or CEMIRT at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Westley said.

This past November, the 412th CES Power Production Element accomplished the installation of the newly overhauled AAS with the help of the 412th CES Heavy Repair Flight, Pavements Element along with technical assistance from CEMIRT experts Eric Brien and Jordan Myers.

According to Seth Lampa, 412th CES Power Production Element supervisor, “Replacing the barrier system requires a well-coordinated effort with multiple agencies and organizations on base and across the Air Force. We catch aircraft during in-flight emergencies — there is absolutely zero room for error or mistake.” 

Upon completion of the barrier system, a certification event was completed Jan. 25 by engaging the AAS with an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 412th Operations Support Squadron.

An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)
Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron inspect an arresting cable on one of Edwards AFB's runways as part of a certification engagement Jan. 25. Aircraft arresting systems undergo a complete system overhaul every 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)
An Edward F-16 catches the arresting cable on an Edwards runway as part of a certification engagement of a newly overhauled aircraft arresting system Jan. 25. Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron began installing the new system last November. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)
Civil engineers ensure runway barriers can catch wounded ‘birds’
Members of the 412th Civil Engineer Squadron inspect an arresting cable on one of Edwards AFB's runways as part of a certification engagement Jan. 25. Aircraft arresting systems undergo a complete system overhaul every 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Brad White)

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