Australian-first telescopic docking capability for Air Force

A new state-of-the-art Telescopic Docking system has been successfully tested and commissioned as part of the new C-17 hangar facilities project at RAAF Base Amberley.
A NEW state-of-the-art Telescopic Docking system has been successfully tested and commissioned as part of the new C-17 hangar facilities project at RAAF Base Amberley. 
 
The planning and design for the $11 million system started in 2016 and culminated with the installation and operational fit checks in May 2019.
 
The system comprises of two telescoping masts equipped with a working platform that are suspended from a crane trolley.
 
The work level is lowered to the hangar floor to allow maintenance personnel to enter, then lift and move to the required position on the aircraft via linear and rotational axes. 
 
Mr Lindsay Murray, Project Director, Capital Facilities & Infrastructure Branch, said the design, delivery and installation of the system had its challenges, but working collaboratively with stakeholders and contractors has resulted in a fantastic new capability for Air Force. 
 
“This system is the first of its kind in Australia for use in either a Defence or commercial airframe maintenance capacity,” Mr Murray said.
 
“This will now enable access for maintainers to a wide range of aircraft types in freely selectable parking configurations.
 
“Aircraft parked at an angle can be reached just as easily as those in a ‘nose-in’ or ‘tail-in’ position.”
 
GPCAPT Steve Pesce, Officer Commanding 86WG, said the major benefit of tele-platforms for home station checks is the overhead operation.
 
“The C-17 Telescopic Docking system is an innovative technology that enables more efficient access for our technicians across a wide array of aircraft without the need for dedicated stands,” GPCAPT Pesce said.
 
“It significantly reduces workplace health and safety risks, which is always a key consideration when working at heights on large aircraft.”
 
Squadron Leader Evan Smith, Senior Engineering Officer for No. 36 Squadron, said technicians had previously relied solely on lift platforms, cherry pickers, and working-at-heights harnesses to access the exterior of the C-17A.
 
“The new tele-platforms will make it easier and safer for our technicians to access hard-to-reach parts of the aircraft,” Squadron Leader Smith said.
 
“Ultimately, it will result in more efficient maintenance on C-17A, particularly during the Home Station Check, and other larger, hangar-based maintenance tasks.”