Alleviating Pain in the Rear

Mission crew members aboard USAF’s E-3 AWACS fleet are getting some well-earned relief for their backs and necks in the form of new ergonomic seats. The airmen, seated at 19 control stations, typically fly 12- to 14-hour combat missions as they provide airborne battle management and relay communications over operations in Southwest Asia. The existing seats offered no adjustable lumbar support, back tilt or neck adjustment features, and insufficient padding for such long missions. The AWACS crews are getting the new Fixed Aircrew Seat Standardization replacements are destined for other legacy large aircraft, like the E-8 Joint STARS, but currently USAF has only funded the E-3 upgrade. So far, the service has installed them on four of its 32 E-3s. (Hanscom report by Chuck Paone)