Waterjet Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing

The OMAX waterjet cutting tool is typically used by FRCSW in manufacturing skins, angles and ribs for the F/A-18, E-2/C-2 and H-60 airframes.

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) artisans use a variety of tools and unique machinery in their daily work to provide the fleet with mission-ready aircraft.

One such machine, the “waterjet,” which is assigned under the industrial manufacturing program in Building 472, has the ability to cut aircraft wings in half.

With a 30-horsepower water pump and able to accommodate parts and materials up to 6 feet by 12 feet in its water tank, there’s not too much the manufacturing cutting tool can’t cut, curve, or shape.

An “abrasive” waterjet, the unit uses a combination of high pressure water and an 80-grit garnet abrasive that travels through a water line to cut material. Water enters a filtration system to a pump which boosts it up to 50,000 psi, and then sends it to a nozzle which has a mixing chamber where the abrasive is introduced.

The abrasive grit collects at the bottom of the water tank where it is captured and disposed of as hazardous material.

The 80-grit abrasive is about the size of beach sand and is typically used for making rough cuts. Finer grits of abrasive are used for making more precision cuts to create intricate parts.

An abrasive waterjet can cut through a variety of materials including stone, wood, titanium, and Teflon.

Unlike lasers, which FRCSW uses for cuts and patterns from minimally thick pieces of steel and aluminum, the waterjet does not use heat, sparing metals and other substances from the potential damage or intrinsic property changes associated with heat-cutting devices.

Operation of the machine begins with an AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design) that interprets the blueprints of the part to be manufactured or cut.

AutoCAD results are transferred to the waterjet’s computer terminal which estimates the time to complete the job, an estimate of the cost, and the amount of abrasive required based upon the material used and its thickness.

The FRCSW waterjet can handle thicknesses of up to 18 inches.

Manufactured by the OMAX Corp., FRCSW purchased the machine in mid-2009 to replace its aging unit.

The waterjet is routinely used to cut out F/A-18, E2/C2, and H-60 Seahawk helicopter parts including skins and ribs for the airframes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRCSW Hydraulics Shop Working to Meet CNAF, Fleet Requirements

Pneudralics systems mechanic Brett Lee disassembles a hydraulic servo system actuator assembly used on a Super Hornet aileron.

Throughout the Fleet Readiness Center domain, many programs form the team required to meet Commander, Navy Air Forces (CNAF) initiative to achieve 341 mission-ready F/A-18 Super Hornets by 2020.

At Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) the hydraulics shop in Building 472 contributes to the CNAF goal by focusing much of its efforts on the flight control systems of the Super Hornet.

“Hornet E and F rudders, trailing edge flaps, horizontal stabilizers and ailerons are the most common components that we work on,” said pneudraulics work leader Logan Black.

Manned by 55 artisans and approximately 12 contractor personnel operating in two shifts, the shop also refurbishes flight control components to legacy A-D Hornets, the E-2/C-2 airframe, CH-53 and H-60 helicopters. Components to the LM2500 turbine engine are renovated, as well.

Black said that the shop focuses on Issue Priority Group 1 (IPG1) aircraft — aircraft that are down — for a component. The shop maintains a priority chart that is based on the top 10 IPG1s.

Inducted components undergo an electrical check prior to a diagnostic check to locate any failures within the unit. Parts are replaced as required.

“If something like an attachment is broken and we can’t get it through the supply system, then we send it through our evaluator and estimator to the material engineering disposition program who would deem it as scrap,” Black noted.

Many flight control components, like rudders and nose wheel landing gear, are equipped with electro hydraulic service valves (EHSV) which the shop also repairs. The EHVS sends the hydraulic signal to the flight control actuator which determines aircraft movement.

To check and test components, the shop uses the Servo-Cylinder Test Station (STS). Black said that three of the test stations are exclusively used on the Super Hornets for testing the aircrafts main components including stabilizers and nose wheel. Other STSs are used on components belonging to IPG1 aircraft.

“Once we final test the component and after our last quality assurance (QA) check, the unit is sent back to the squadron or whoever the customer may be,” Black said.

Thanks to its artisans and members from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the shop recently improved the turn-around time (TAT) to its customers by approximately 40 percent.

The BCG, a 55-year-old management consulting firm, arrived at FRCSW in early October with the intent to analyze the Navy Sustainment System and devise improved procedures to increase production efficiency.

Black said the reduction in TAT was primarily achieved through a focus on procuring and preparing parts, and the development of a color-coded system to alert artisans and supervisors to areas in need of immediate attention.

“They made our work much more visual than it just being from a spreadsheet,” he said. “When they colored the issues red to bring attention to them, people started seeing the problem rather than just knowing about the problem.”

“We’ve been able to address issues with getting parts. And making it a visual indication allowed us to see what the problems were and what the hold-ups were. We had meetings with people from other departments to get the components to move. This got everyone on the same page with us receiving the parts and getting them into the shop to be worked.”

A board for artisans to voice their ideas and concerns was setup in the shop by BCG. One suggestion resulted in an improved approach to kitting parts for the components.

“There was a lot of confusion as to identifying the parts for the kitting,” said pneudraulics systems mechanic Brett Lee. “Typically, there’s more than 50 parts per component kit, and these include the kits for rudders, ailerons, leading edge stabilizers and trailing edge flaps.”

“The artisans were willing to work with production control to cross kit the components so we could work them. With BCG highlighting the material problems, the artisans were willing to work with them and fix a lot of the problems we were having,” Black noted.

“I know BCG is still working on a lot of process improvements,” he said. “I don’t think they are leaving anytime soon, and at least one person will stay and shadow to make sure things are running smoothly.”

The hydraulics shop services more than 100 different components and processes about 500 per components quarterly.

 

 

 

FRCSW Employee Receives 2018 Lasswell Award for Fleet Support

FRCSW information technology specialist Tamika Clay-Jefferson is presented the 2018 A. Bryan Lasswell Award for fleet support by Rear Adm. Dan Dwyer, commmader, Carrier Strike Group Nine, October 23 at the Town and Country Hotel. The award recognizes individuals who have provided exceptional support through in-service engineering procedures or technical innovation to the armed services based in San Diego.

Tamika Clay-Jefferson, an information technology specialist for Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), is the recipient of the 2018 A. Bryan Lasswell Award for Fleet Support.

Sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association and named for Marine Corps Maj. A. Bryan Lasswell, the award recognizes individuals who provide exceptional support to the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard forces based in San Diego.

In 1942, Lasswell, who was a translator and cryptologist, deciphered communications of the Japanese Navy, which proved vital to the American victory at the Battle of Midway Island.

In 2015, Clay-Jefferson joined the FRCSW Information Technology and Management Department and works as the command’s information systems security manager (ISSM).

A year earlier she wrapped up a 14-year naval career where she initially served (not unlike Lasswell) as a cryptologic intelligence technician, until the rate merged with information systems technician in 2006.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in information technology management along the way, Clay-Jefferson found herself challenged to apply her experience and education to improve FRCSW’s cybersecurity program.

“When I started working here I wasn’t in the position that I am in now. I was watching and learning to see how we did business. I noticed that we were deficient in a number of areas, and I’m now in a position to affect change,” she said.

FRCSW’s cybersecurity guidelines are governed by a myriad of authorities including the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIS) Risk Management Framework (RMF), the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy.

“We have to be in line not only with the DOD and DON standards, but also follow whatever the SECNAV puts out,” Clay-Jefferson noted.

“All of these things have a position in the cybersecurity workforce. So our job is to make sure we understand all of those requirements, and that we create command policy, instructions and guidelines to make sure that we’re in line.”

In addition to creating a mandated cyber-awareness brief for new employees and improving computer security awareness, Clay-Jefferson targeted command systems in need of current Authority to Operate (ATO) status.

“We have so much gear that doesn’t have ATO, that right now we are in the discovery phase of identifying all of our equipment and systems that will need ATO. If they need updated, we’ll provide that to ensure that we are keeping up with Navy policy,” she said.

Systems that are tested and verified to meet the requirements of their Information Assurance (IA) programs are forwarded to the DOD’s automated Enterprise Mission Assurance Support Service where they are assessed and granted ATO validation.

FRCSW’s research, test, development and evaluation (RTD&E) labs are examples of areas with systems in need of ATO authorization to operate.

“We have adapted the Risk Management Framework (RMF) process that has a list of all their equipment and structure and it’s basically giving the ability to `go live’ and do the job because all of the DOD, DON and NIS standards are met,” Clay-Jefferson said.

“By definition the cyber office is supposed to have oversight of all the command’s systems and that wasn’t really happening; so we established relationships to let them know that we are here to support them and whatever they need.”

As part of her ISSM duties, Clay-Jefferson works with the FRCSW Security Department to establish physical security procedures in the labs such as access control and gear to mask computer servers which should not be visually exposed.

Command-wide, security procedures developed last year targeting the use of government computers resulted in a 95 percent reduction in violations since March 2017.

“These decreased incidents refer to unauthorized plug-ins of personal cell phones and flash drives in government equipment, which also resulted in a reduction of viruses,” she said.

In the meantime, Clay-Jefferson and the cybersecurity team are preparing for a cyber-readiness inspection scheduled for February 2019. The week-long inspection is conducted by the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command by direction of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The inspection will target technical and traditional security issues and the security culture of the command.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOC STEM Conference Recognizes FRCSW Employee

FRCSW acquisition program specialist Angela Ingram-Smith was recognized as one of four “Technology Rising Star” winners during the 2018 Women of Color (WOC) Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) conference held in Detroit Oct. 11-14.

A Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) employee was honored during the 2018 Women of Color (WOC) Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) conference Oct. 11-14 in Detroit.

Angela Ingram-Smith, an FRCSW acquisition program specialist, was one of four STEM “Technology Rising Star” winners. She received the award for her work within the command’s acquisition planning and procurement organization.

The WOC STEM conference is designed to help and provide women with methods to improve their career and educational goals.

Ingram-Smith began her career at FRCSW in 2012 as an administrative assistant for the Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning /Sustainment Department.

She transferred to her current position three years later.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in business management and certification (Level 1) from Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) program management in acquisition, Ingram-Smith spends much of her time handling the service contracts and purchases vital to the command’s operations, and also provides training on the use of government credit cards.

Her desire to improve the efficiency of the command’s acquisition procedures led her to target unauthorized commitment/purchases (UAC).

“A UAC is when customers purchase items, supplies or services without authorization to first do so,” she said. “It was an ongoing issue; and because of the increase in numbers of UACs, we identified that we needed to put a process in place to address the issue.”

Personnel who bypass proper procedures for procuring supplies or services often experience prolonged wait times before their requests are resolved.

“The longest UAC to process has been over a year. I have one right now, a request for a service, that we identified in February 2017. It was just awarded this month, October 2018, as the vendor just signed off on the modification.”

“Had it been a properly authorized request for service, this could have been fulfilled in a few months,” she said.

Leading a team of six others, Ingram-Smith designed and created a software program which digitized the UAC process, which is in support of the NAVAIR/Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Vision 2020 Acquisition Master Plan.

“It took us about six months of planning, and in that process, we decided to add three training classes for our customers,” she noted.

The digitized UAC contains folders of the required documents for procurement and services. Once complete the folders are routed from the originator to the originator’s supervisor for sign-off, and then through the remaining signature chain.

“The program is currently in use here, but we are still in the process of rolling it out and placing the program on SharePoint,” she said.

She added that the program has been shared with other commands, including FRCs East and Southeast.

“I don’t know where they are with the process, but my understanding is they like the program. Of course I don’t know how many unauthorized commitments they have, but they are using this as a model to adapt to their specific needs.”

The digitized UAC program is tentatively scheduled to be loaded onto SharePoint by mid-2019.

 

FRCSW Tube Shop Supports Vital Aircraft Systems

Sheet metal mechanic Ken Redman uses a computer numerically controlled tube bending machine to bend a one-inch titanium tube to be used on an F/A-18 Hornet.

Fuel and hydraulics are just two of the common systems found on all of the aircraft that are serviced by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).

Ensuring the specifications and quality of the tubing used for delivering these and other systems, is the responsibility of the FRCSW tube and hose shop in Building 472.

Much of the work in the shop involves pressure/hydraulic testing and bending of tubes.

The shop uses computer numerically controlled (CNC) tube bending machines manufactured by Eaton Leonard to bend tubes made of aluminum, stainless steel and titanium.

Blueprint data which includes the tube’s overall diameter, thickness, and the bend angle is entered into the CNC which makes the calculations and bends the tube. Once entered, the information remains in the CNC and may be recalled for future use.

Another CNC device, the Vector Laservison tube data center, uses a laser to analyze samples and measure angles – to within one-half degree of tolerance – so tube data may be captured without blueprints.

The angle data retrieved by the laser is analyzed by the machines computer, which in turn, feeds the tube bending machine computers to produce the part.

“Just about all of the data for the F/A-18s has been scanned,” noted sheet metal mechanic Ken Redman, who operates the shop.

“But blueprints for the E-2/C-2 airframes, for the most part, are incomplete. Regardless, we have about 95 percent of those tubes already scanned in. Still, we occasionally need to take a sample (tube) off of an aircraft to scan it.”

Redman said that the Vector machine is also used for quality assurance and to ensure the accuracy of the other tube bending machines.

“When a tube is bent, there’s a degree of ‘spring-back’ to it. So after a tube is first bent, it will go to the Vector machine which plots the points of the bend and compares that against the data. The Vector will calculate the spring-back, make any corrections and send that information back to the bending machine for correction. So the next time that particular tube is made, the correct information will already be stored in the computer,” he said.

The CNC machines can bend tubes up to two inches in diameter, and as thin as 3/16 of an inch. Tube fittings/fasteners as high as two and one-half inches are also installed.

In addition to its fuel and hydraulic systems, Redman said that pressure testing of the tubes to an aircraft’s coolant and life and fire protection systems is also performed.

“When an aircraft is here for maintenance, I’ll get about seven or eight tubes at a time, and a week later, three or four and then it slows down,” he said.

“We now pressure test about 95 percent of the tubes at 6,000 psi, but with the Super Hornets, we need to go upward to about 21,000 psi,” he said.

To better handle the Super Hornets and prepare for future MV-22 Osprey workload, Redman said that the shop will add two new pressure/hydraulic test benches.

Certain Osprey tubes, he said, exceed 6,000 psi in pressure testing requirements.

Though that workload has yet to arrive, Redman said the shop remains busy with the existing F/A-18 and E-2/C-2 work.

“We usually average about 10-12 tubes a week, but we’ve started picking up UH-1 helicopters and have two orders equaling 300 hoses, and an order of 150 aluminum tubes,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

FRCSW and NAVAIR Exploring Blockchain Technology

Vidal Nuno, work leader for the fuel cells installation shop in Building 94, opens a storage cage where ready-for-issue fuel cell parts are stored for legacy F/A-18 Hornets. A joint project by NAVAIR and FRCSW using blockchain technology will improve the efficiency of the distribution system for all parts within the naval aviation community.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is exploring the use of “blockchain” technology to help track aviation parts at maintenance facilities across the country.

Tracking parts from their origin and understanding the history of flight-critical aircraft parts is a resource consuming process that drives up the cost to operate military aircraft.

To increase efficiency and save money, the Navy is working to change the way it tracks the lineage of parts.

Currently, when parts are delivered they are tracked with pen and paper on scheduled removal component cards that get manually entered into a database.

Through the use of permissioned blockchain technology, the Naval Aviation Enterprise is working toward a 21st century solution to aircraft maintenance logistics.

Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Company (ITAMCO) are the developers of a blockchain product called “SIMBA Chain”.

SIMBA is a result of a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Small Business Innovation project that looked into tracking secure messages using blockchain technology.

A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) allows Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSW) Advanced Technology and Innovation Team to partner with ITAMCO and bring this technological innovation to the Navy.

Additionally, the agreement with ITAMCO allows the Navy to gain access to cutting edge chain code as well as innovative protocols that can quickly and securely recall data; setting the stage for the Navy to use blockchain technology to deliver large amounts of data securely. The technology will be a useful tool set among Navy, DoD and external industry partners.

In addition to assisting the Navy in the use of these software tools, ITAMCO will gain an understanding of various facets of the Navy, as well as a better understanding of how the supply chain operates.

The goal of the CRADA is to develop a conceptual architecture for what a connected and transparent supply chain could look like.

A major hurdle to successful implementation is information assurance (IA). IA is the practice of assuring the safety of information and managing risks related to the use, processing, storage and transmission of data.

Using ITAMCOs accreditation for a distributed information system is a sizable departure from the centrally-controlled database design the DoD currently operates.

Though the ability to manage large data sets is not inherent to blockchain, the Navy plans to combine file access tracking and blockchain into a technology bundle that will provide the capability to manage critical aircraft part life events and allow for custody of these events on a distributed ledger electronically. This will permit the Navy to reap the benefits of a more efficient system.

When all of the nodes supporting a supply chain become connected it increases potential vulnerability, so special consideration must be given to cyber-security.

Bringing experts together early in the development phase provides a better understanding of the risks and rewards of a connected distribution system. This will allow for sound decision making in an effort to ensure any data transmitted is well protected.

The Navy already has a trusted network, so blockchain technology would loosely resemble public blockchains.

Public blockchains start with zero trust and rely on computation power in the “proof of work” consensus method.

The Navy model will be a permissioned chain with a consensus mechanism requiring less computing power. Conceptually developing consensus methods that maintain the integrity of the data while providing for all stake holders will be a collaborative effort.

FRCSW is excited to be in the middle of this collaboration. As a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility that currently manages relationships with much of the Naval Aviation Enterprise, the command is well positioned to assist the Navy in reducing costs and increasing efficiencies for maintenance programs across the country and around the world.

FRCSW School Qualifies Navy Welders

Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Chase Weishaupt practices a T-weld on two pieces of stainless steel during exercises in the FRCSW welding school in Building 4.
From repairing hitches on tow tractors to transition ducts in V-22 Osprey aircraft, many shipboard repairs in the fleet require the skills of a qualified welder.

For more than 40 years the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) welding school in Building 4 has provided Sailors and Marines the instruction, knowledge and certification to handle any essential welding projects which may arise in theatre.

The two-month long course totals 320 hours of instruction and is taught by instructors Jason Rice and Alex Pimentel. Both are certified by the American Welding Society (AWS).

Rice has been a welder for 30 years, and Pimentel, a former Marine, is a 2012 graduate of the FRCSW welding school and became an instructor two years ago.

Rice said that classes are typically a mix of four Sailors and four Marines and students earn AWS certification upon graduation.

“We have students from Japan, Hawaii, Italy, just about everywhere,” he said. “The Sailors are either aviation structural mechanics or aviation support equipment technicians, and the Marines are usually welders or sheet metal mechanics.”

Students are taught welding of four different metals: aluminum, stainless steel, mild steel (wrought iron steel) and Inconel, an alloy made of nickel, chromium and iron.

“Inconel is an exotic metal and is used on aircraft exhaust,” Rice said. “It can get hot and cold many times and won’t crack and is corrosion resistant, as well.”

“One sheet of aluminum costs $150, while a sheet of Inconel is about $4,500, which is why it’s the last metal we weld because of the expense. But the students must learn to work with it because about 90 percent of the H-60s and H-53s helicopter exhausts are made this metal.”

Students are required to recertify their welding credentials yearly, either by retaking the course or submitting samples for analysis.

Instructors, as well, must recertify every five years.

The FRCSW school is one of three Naval Air Systems Command welding schools. The other two are on the East Coast.

FRCSW Teammate Develops Fixture to Improve Plating Process

Binh Huynh, work leader of the FRCSW plating shop, stands next to the spindle of a horizontal stabilizer used in legacy F/A-18 Hornets. Only the bottom, metallic appearing area of the spindle will be treated. The yellow and white areas on the spindle are wax, used to protect the remaining portions of the component.

About six months ago, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) plating shop work leader Binh Huynh was faced with a question:

Could a landing gear piston be salvaged by plating its inside?

Working with engineering and manufacturing Huynh developed a fixture for chrome plating the inside of the piston, not only salvaging the component, but foregoing the approximate $100,000 replacement cost, as well.

The piston, or bottom cylinder, acts as the bottom portion of an aircraft’s shock struts where it is attached to the landing gear. The top cylinder is attached to the aircraft.

“We never had the capability of plating the inside diameter of the piston with chrome,” he said. “The inside is tricky, but the outside is easy. We tried it first on a dummy piston and it worked.”

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, the 44-year-old Huynh relocated to the United States at the age of 15 in 1988.

“My dad served with the south Vietnamese military and that’s how we came here, as refugees,” he said.

Having worked for the Boeing Co. for two years, and then six years operating a machining shop in West Covina established by his brother, Huynh developed the skills that qualified him to begin work as a contractor in the plating shop in 2012.

“I worked as a contractor for three years and then converted to a federal employee, and was promoted to the plating shop lead last year,” he said.

Located in Building 472, he oversees the shop’s 10 electroplaters who service the nose and main landing gear piston of the F-18 and E-2 Hawkeye C-2 Greyhound airframes.

All of the pistons are plated with chrome, cadmium and nickel.

“The pistons have approximately a four-inch diameter. We grind them to about 20,000th under size, then plate them and then they go to the machine shop for processing. It’s really like painting, except we use metals,” Huynh said.

The plating process is a lengthy one, requiring roughly 50 hours for the metallic application alone.

“At each process you have to bake them to release hydrogen which takes about 23 hours. And after you bake, you have to mask it because the piston is an L-shape and you only plate the barrel,” Huynh noted.

During his visit in late June Commander, Naval Air Systems Command Vice Adm. Dean Peters recognized Huynh’s innovation and the plating shop for its role in the landing gear overhaul and refurbishment program that marked its highest quarterly throughput of 20 landing gear in two years.

“We all have the same goal here, and that’s to support the fleet,” Huyhn said.

FRCSW Services E-2/C-2 Landing Gear

Aircraft mechanic Eric Fountain strips the nose landing gear of an E-2C Hawkeye to verify the components serial and part number.

The maximum gross take-off weight of the E-2 Hawkeye surveillance airframe and its sister C-2 Greyhound transport is more than 52,000 pounds. Combined with landings, perhaps no other part of the aircraft absorbs as much pressure as its landing gear.

Located in Building 472, the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) landing gear shop is the sole FRC for overhauls and repairs to the Hawkeye and Greyhound nose and main landing gear.

“Landing gear are brought in for cause, like hard landings or fluid leakage, and now they are also brought in under aircrafts the planned maintenance interval (PMI) cycle,” said aircraft mechanic David Pearson.

“Whenever an aircraft (E-2/C-2) comes in from Building 460, they remove the landing gear and the drag braces and bring them here for either a repair or overhaul.”

Approximately seven years ago, the landing gear became part of the airframes PMI-2, a substantial disassembly of the aircraft which also includes removal of the wings, engines, and tail.

Landing gear are evaluated, reassembled and tested. Most are re-issued to the E-2/C-2 program in the Building 460 hangar.

Kits containing about 100 internal and external landing gear parts are used to streamline any overhaul process.

Pearson said that about 90 percent of all landing gear work is PMI, and of that, about 50 percent are repairs.

“For repairs we order the parts we need and reassemble the unit,” said aircraft mechanic Rupert Linberg. “Depending on the repair it usually takes a couple of weeks.”

Within the past three years, the landing gear shop increased its staff to 11 which includes contractor personnel.

Pearson noted that most of the repair and overhaul services to legacy F/A-18 and Super Hornet landing gear is done by private contractors and intermediate-level active duty personnel.

Meanwhile, the shop produced 20 landing gear last quarter, the highest throughput in the last two years.

“Our success is based upon the assistance we receive from our production control folks, engineering and quality assurance people and our supervisor,” Pearson said.

 

 

 

FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton Inducts Last AH-1W Super Cobra

Artisans at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Site Camp Pendleton marked the end of an era July 18 with the induction of the last AH-1W Super Cobra to undergo the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP).

The H-1W is being retired and replaced with the newer H-1Z Cobra.

“The technology is more advanced in the Z than the W,” said Site Camp Pendleton manager Cary Mocanu. “It has better engines, and the airframe is more rigid and stronger. The W is primarily sheet metal where the Z is more cast aluminum parts.”

Manufactured by Bell Helicopter, the H-1W Cobra twin-engine attack helicopter was created for the Marines. For the past 32 years it has primarily been used in ground support missions and special operations.

The IMP was developed to keep the aircraft mission-ready by targeting the integrity of the airframe through two assessment events: Planned Maintenance Interval-one (PMI-1) and PMI-2.

Mocanu said that the H-1W PMI-1 occurs every 50 days at which time the aircraft are disassembled and evaluated.

Prior to PMI-1, the squadron removes the aircraft’s blades, and the site’s artisans remove the intermediate and tail gear boxes, panels, engines and the transmission and inspect those areas.

“The fuel cells and crew seats are removed and all of the oil, fuel and hydraulic systems hoses are also changed during PMI-1,” Mocanu said.

The H-1W PMI-2 cycle is held every 78 days with inspections similar to those of the PMI-1, except the aircraft are also stripped using a particle media blast (PMB) and painted.

The Site Camp Pendleton staff of approximately 40 artisans and 12 contractors have a paint and PMB facility which provides a faster return of aircraft to the squadrons.

Damages outside of the IMP scope are reported to the squadron and are ordinarily repaired as in-service repairs (ISR).

Mocanu said that H-1W ISRs averaged about 140 per year.

“A lot of those aircraft had the same discrepancies such as the transmission pylon channels, stub wing lugs, 214 bulkhead repairs, and landing gear supports. Many of these issues were the result of hard landings or fatigue to the airframe,” he said.

The H-1W IMP is scheduled for completion by the end of September when the aircraft will be returned to its squadron: Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 775, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

Meanwhile, the artisans of Site Camp Pendleton will remain busy continuing IMP procedures to the H-1 Z and the UH-1Y Super Huey.

“We have plenty of work. We have Y and Zs coming up and should be putting out 40-50 aircraft a year within the next couple of years,” Mocanu said.

The last AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter to undergo the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP) at FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton awaits further processing outside of the hangar. The aircraft was inducted July 18 from Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 775 (HMLA-775), and is scheduled to complete the IMP by the end of September and return to the squadron.