Christmas Flight Carried 14 Wounded Soldiers
On Christmas Day, a C-17 Globemaster III departed Iraq carrying
14 patients requiring medical care at Landstuhl Regional Medical
Due to a low-ceiling visibility, the C-17 requested the
first-ever CAT II instrument landing system approach to a Ramstein
runway... three days after the system was declared operational.
One urgent, six priority and seven routine patients were able to
land safely and receive medical care shortly after touching down
using the new system which allows aircraft and crews to land in
very low-visibility conditions.
"This is a phenomenal capability for Ramstein, the Air Force and
the Department of Defense," said Lt. Col. Marty Winkler, 86th
Operations Support Squadron director of operations. "Ramstein is
the first airfield in the DoD to implement a CAT III ILS, making
Ramstein the most capable airfield in the DoD."
The US Air Force states Ramstein's airfield had approximately
29,600 arrivals and departures in 2006, and annually averages 35
days requiring CAT II or III operations.
Pilots flying appropriately equipped aircraft can land with a
100-foot ceiling and 370 meters of visibility using CAT II
procedures; those with CAT III equipped aircraft can now land at
Ramstein with as little as 200 meters of visibility and a ceiling
that starts at ground level.
The CAT II and III ILS technology is installed on many military
and commercial aircraft to include C-17s, C-40B/Cs, C-20s and
C-37As, Colonel Winkler said.
The installation of the CAT II and III ILS is part of the Rhein
Main Transition Program, a capability that once was filled by
Frankfurt International Airport's system when Rhein Main Air Base
was operational. The system was completed in the summer of 2005 and
tested for more than a year to validate its accuracy before being
officially brought on line Dec. 22, said Senior Master Sgt. Donald
Colbert, one of the main planners for implementing the new ILS.
As Ramstein personnel implemented use of the new ILS, the base
experienced several changes, said Capt. Lloyd Dropps, 86th OSS
Airfield Operations flight commander. One of the most noticeable
changes effected drivers on the flightline during CAT II and III
ILS operations. Everyone with a flightline driver's license has
been informed of the change and systems are in place to ensure
safety on the runway, ramps and taxi ways.
"This is a wonderful moment for Ramstein, but it has been a huge
team effort, said Colonel Winkler. "Innumerable people at the wing
level, Headquarters US Air Forces in Europe and the host nation
have helped make this happen."
(Aero-News salutes Capt. Erin Dorrance, 86th Airlift