Left to right: Maj Brian Pugliese, TSgt Paul Carissimo, TSgt Steven Johnson, TSgt Diana Tamayo, Maj Matthew Zayatz, TSgt Kelci Richardson, and Capt Andrew Muench
On January 30, 2018, the Total Force Association C-40 crew of SPAR15 departed Scott Air Force Base on an Executive Airlift mission supporting the Air Force Chief of Staff and the Commander of Pacific Air Forces. The mission facilitated timely and critical partnership building with Indian and Singaporean Minsters of Defense and their Air Force Chiefs of Staff.
THE CREWFrom 54 AS, Scott AFB, Ill.:Maj Brian Pugliese, PilotMaj Matthew Zayatz, PilotCapt Andrew Muench, PilotMSgt Dennis Morris, Flight AttendantTSgt Suzanne Feely, Flight AttendantTSgt Diana Tamayo, Flight AttendantSSgt Kyleigh LaPoint, Flight AttendantSSgt Kelci Richardson, Flight AttendantFrom 65 AS, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Hawaii:Maj Brian Park, PilotFrom 932 MXG, Scott AFB, Ill.:TSgt Paul Carissimo, Flying Crew ChiefTSgt Steven Johnson, Flying Crew ChiefLeaving Hickam AFB in Hawaii for Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the crew was approximately three hours into the mission over the Pacific Ocean when they noticed an abnormal fuel imbalance with the #1 main tank. Oddly, it displayed 400 pounds more than its stated maximum capacity.
They immediately began troubleshooting an uncommanded fuel transfer and possible tank overfill. With no guidance in their publications, the crew called the 932d Operations Group Standardization/Evaluation, as well as engineers from Boeing, for assistance. Neither could pinpoint a cause nor offer a solution.
Approaching their equal time point—a potentially dangerous spot—without knowing why the fuel was transferring or from where, the crew declared an emergency above the Pacific Ocean and prepared to divert to Travis AFB in California. Flight attendants readied passengers for a possible evacuation and ensured a secure cabin before landing.
Due to suspected fuel venting, the aircrew, with support from home-station subject matter experts, opted to use a non-standard fuel pump position to drain any fuel that may have filled the vent box. Burning down the fuel in the vent box greatly reduces the chance of spilling fuel on the runway next to a still-running engine. Following an uneventful landing, the Travis AFB Fire Department Chief declared the aircraft safe.
After three days of rigorous maintenance, the crew successfully returned the aircraft back to home station. They subsequently shared their experience, which helped another C-40 crew diagnose a similar situation on a high-level mission—this time carrying members of Congress. The non-standard fuel burn helped the second crew remain in a balanced fuel state, which ultimately led them to finish their mission safely and on time.