2005 Hays Award

Presented to: Ms. Cecelia M. Lowe

Citation: For her leadership and dedication in delivering significant advancements in military navigation and formation flight capabilities across the U.S. Air Force mobility airlift fleet.


Ms. Cecelia M. Lowe is the lead navigation engineer for the Aeronautical Systems Center's C-17 Systems Group at Wright Patterson Air Force Base where she has served in this capacity for over eight years. Ms. Lowe directs over $500 million of C-17 communication, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) programs. Her outstanding accomplishments and technical leadership have significantly advanced the navigational capabilities of the C-17 and other Air Force mobility platforms and has been credited with resolving two of the C-17's toughest challenges.

From 1998 through 2002, C-17 formation flights were plagued with safety-critical range measurement errors and frozen display incidents due to malfunctions in the station keeping equipment (SKE). In 2002, a "near miss" incident involving formation aircraft culminated in a C-17 fleet restriction to visual meteorological conditions for formation flights. This severely limited Air Mobility Command's ability to train and jeopardized the Air Force's ability to provide the Army a strategic brigade airdrop capability. Ms. Lowe demonstrated impressive leadership skill in directing a team of government and contractor experts through an intensive 11 month effort to determine root-cause and development of a comprehensive plan to reinstate C-17 instrument meteorological condition (IMC) formation flight capability. This plan consisted of a technologically advanced Military Aircraft Collision and Avoidance System based long-term solution and an innovative interim solution using the C-17's Traffic Alert & Collision Avoidance System data overlaid on the SKE display to alert aircrew of SKE failures. The interim solution was fielded in 2004 and restored IMC capability in under 12 months.

Ms. Lowe was also instrumental in resolving issues with the C-17's Global Positioning System (GPS). Safety critical navigational position errors caused by the embedded GPS receiver required a fleet restriction from airdrops and over water missions. Ms. Lowe again stepped up and guided a team of GPS experts in determining root cause and corrective action. She led the development of a creative solution that lifted the restriction in nine months, which ultimately improved government testing and simulation facilities, and benefited multiple aircraft platforms.