The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) is testing a newly designed hybrid electric and battery-powered mobile dock system for aircraft depot maintenance.

The new system could be used for C-5 Galaxy military transport aircraft maintenance at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.

Powered by ‘clean’ technology, the mobile dock system is expected to save maintenance time while increasing operational readiness of airforce platforms.

Using lift platforms and hard stands, maintainers will be able to safely access panels and components of an aircraft during routine maintenance at a hangar.

APTO Installation Energy Working Group lead Eric Griesenbrock said: “Traditional lift platforms are either diesel or battery-powered. The battery-powered lifts have limited range; the batteries are typically depleted over the course of a shift, and they have a lengthy recharge time. This system includes a direct methanol fuel cell for onboard battery charging.

“It’s an electric, battery-powered mobile dock, but it has a fuel cell that continuously charges the battery – it’s like a ‘Prius’ for maintainers.”

APTO added direct methanol fuel cells, aircraft maintenance platforms, and safety devices and controls to commercial lift platforms.

Direct methanol fuel cells provide on-board battery charging to facilitate around-the-clock maintenance operations.

The use of ‘clean’ technology allows maintenance teams to operate the system with hangar doors closed.

Maintainers can move and shift the newly built mobile lift platform as they move around an aircraft.

To validate their efficiency and effectiveness, the new platforms are being added to existing lift platforms and hard stands as part of a six-month demonstration due to conclude in July.