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Modern, efficient arrestor system installed at Trenton airfield

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Cable hooks to CF-18 bringing it safely to a halt.
Photos by John Bruyea

Posted: Feb 10/14

By Ross Lees

8 Wing/CFB Trenton continues to maintain its position at the leading edge of modernization within the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

Last week, the Barrier Arrestor Kit (BAK) at 8 Wing’s airfield was upgraded from the BAK-12 to the BAK-14, a system which reduces the amount of time a runway is tied up if there is a fighter jet emergency declared and a CF-18 or other allied fighter aircraft must land.

With the previous BAK-12 system, the arrestor cable, which is used to catch a fighter jet landing or taking off, has to be manually installed.  This process can take between 15 to 20 minutes.  From the time that the cable is installed to the time the fighter aircraft is recovered the runway is unavailable to any other aircraft traffic on the base.

The BAK-14 system has the cable installed below the surface of the runway and is computer operated from the air traffic was certified on Jan. 21 with two test arrests conducted on a CF-18 from 3 Wing Bagotville.  The two arrest tests – one at 80 knots and another at 120 knots – went well, revealed Mr. Gorman and Capt. Kouchekan-Zadeh.

Aside from the airfields at 8 Wing Trenton, this system has also been installed on airfields in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Comox, and British Columbia.  All of these airfields serve as emergency landing fields for Canadian and allied fighter aircraft.  The older BAK-12 system remains in use at fighter bases where the cables can remain operational at all times in case of emergency.

Installed 1,500 feet from each end of the runway, the cables may be called upon for emergencies during both landing and takeoff.  When deployed, the cables will arrest the forward motion of the jet within 1,200 feet.

“This equipment is now more important than ever with ageing aircraft,” noted Mr. Gorman.

It also contributes to less stress for airfield air traffic controllers and the pilots of the transport aircraft also using the airfield, Mr. Gorman explained.  During the entire arresting process, the airfield is not available to other aircraft, which puts added pressure on the controllers and those pilots with other tasks to complete.

While 86 ASU technicians like Mr. Gorman and John Bruyea maintain the arrestor system, it is the firefighters who will be trained in the use of the arrestor system and who will be involved in the recovery of aircraft and personnel in emergency situations.  In standby or crash situations, fire trucks are ready in key positions.

“8 Wing Fire Hall did an outstanding job responding to the arrest (tests) on Jan. 21,” Mr. Gorman said.  “They carried out their duties in a very professional manner.”

Once the arrest has been completed and the firefighters establish the safety of the aircraft and the pilot, they are tasked with the removal of the aircraft from the arrestor cable and retracting it.  Once the cable has been retracted and the fire trucks move off the airfield, the air traffic controllers can then begin letting other aircraft use the airfield.

86 ASU is the sole facility in the CAF that provides third-line maintenance on arrestor gear systems, according to WO Cory Gill.

“In addition, we are the only unit in Canada that houses mobile systems used in air shows and we are the only school or facility that runs Aircraft Arrestor Systems courses for the rest of the country,” he said.

While each base has its own first- and second-line maintenance people, the facility at 86 ASU is dedicated to airfields across the country for third-line maintenance.


Photos by John Bruyea.