The US Air Force is in the process of upgrading the C-40 VIP transport aircraft fleet with modifications to better accommodate pilots during extended flight missions.
Four Air Force C-40B aircraft and four Air Force Reserve Command C-40C aircraft are being upgraded, with the effort scheduled to be completed by May 2021.
As the military version of Boeing’s 737-700 business class jet, the C-40 is used to transport senior US leaders, to include members of Congress, the Cabinet, and combatant commanders, to locations around the world, and is designed to be an “office in the sky”.
The new modification includes installing two rest seats that recline to a flat horizontal position – in the crew rest area of the plane – so that additional pilots can sleep during long missions.
Additionally, as part of the modification, the Air Force is changing wiring in the plane to allow lights in the crew rest area to be turned off without having to shut lights off in the entire cabin. A sound deadening curtain is also being installed in the crew rest area.
“Before starting this modification, crew rest seats [in eight of the eleven aircraft in the C-40 fleet] did not lay flat, and didn’t meet Air Force and FAA crew rest requirements,” said Louis Tenbrink, C-40 program manager with the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate, which is leading the effort. “Ensuring the crew gets sufficient rest is an important safety issue and the modification addresses that, and meets all customer, plus regulatory requirements.”
Changes to the aircraft eliminate the need for crew rest stops, and facilitate the ability to carry additional crew onboard to allow for a 24 hour duty day versus the current maximum of 16 hours.
“Our focus is on providing our nation’s senior leaders with safe and reliable transportation to anywhere in the world,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Britton, Program Executive Officer of the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate. “The modification improves safety and shortens overall travel time. I’m proud of the C-40 team at Tinker [Air Force Base] as they continue to innovatively deliver critical capability for our nation’s senior leadership.”