USAF aims to complete C-40 upgrade this spring

The US Air Force (USAF) has released more details about the ongoing modification of its Boeing C-40B/C Clipper VIP transport fleet and has confirmed that the effort is due for completion this May.

A military variant of Boeing’s 737-700 business-class jet family, the C-40B/C is employed by the USAF to transport senior US government officials and military leaders to locations across the globe. The service states that the Clipper is designed to be an “office in the sky”, adding that the aircraft’s new modifications will better accommodate pilots and crew members during extended flight missions.

C-40C Clipper [USAF/Christopher Parr]
A USAF-operated Boeing C-40C Clipper on the ground at Scott AFB, Illinois, on April 15, 2016. USAF/Christopher Parr

The new modifications include the installation of a sound deadening curtain and two rest seats in the aircraft’s crew rest area that recline back into a horizontal position, enabling aircrews to sleep during long-range missions. The service is also changing the aircraft’s wiring to allow the lights in the crew rest area to be switched off without having to turn off the lights of the entire cabin.

In total, four active-duty USAF-operated C-40Bs and four C-40Cs from Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) are being upgraded. The service added that the “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.”

C-40 Clipper Crew Rest Seats [USAF]
As part of the modification process, two new reclining seats have been added to the crew rest area of the USAF's Boeing C-40B/C Clipper VIP transport aircraft. Note that these seats can be adjusted into a horizontal position, allowing aircrews to sleep during long-range missions. USAF

Louis Tenbink, C-40 Program Manager with the USAF’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate, said: “Before starting this modification, crew rest seats [in eight of the 11 aircraft in the C-40 fleet] did not lay flat, and didn’t meet air force and [Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)] crew rest requirements. Ensuring the crew gets sufficient rest is an important safety issue and the modification addresses that, and meets all customer, plus regulatory requirements.”

The USAF currently employs 11 Clippers, comprising seven C-40Cs and four C-40Bs. The C-40Cs entered operational service in October 2002 and are operated by the 201st Airlift Squadron (AS) ‘Hoku’ from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and the 73rd AS from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. The C-40Bs joined the USAF’s ranks in January 2003, with all four examples being operated by the 1st AS ‘SAM Fox’ from Joint Base Andrews.

C-40 Clipper Sound Deadening Curtain [USAF]
A sound deadening curtain has also been added to the C-40B/C's crew rest area during the USAF's modification efforts. USAF