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.

New Vacuum Furnace Heats Up FRCSW LM2500 Engine Program

FRCSW teammates who were instrumental in the procurement, installation and acceptance of the Seco/Warwick Group furnace are, from left, materials engineers Michael Schutt and Jessica Porras, CIP project manager Martha Hoffman, metrology calibration Hung Pham, and material engineers David Arenas and Blake Whitmee.

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSW) LM2500 engine program will get a bump in production thanks to the recent installation of a new vacuum furnace in Building 379.

The LM2500 turbine is used by the Navy to power Spruance and Kidd-class destroyers, Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

The $1.9 million furnace will be used to “stress test” LM2500 parts. The unit can heat up to 2,800 degrees. After heating and the engine’s metallic components contract, technicians can look for any cracks or flaws and conduct further testing as needed.

It will not be used for the heat treating or plating of LM2500 parts.

Manufactured by the Seco/Warwick Group, the furnace was purchased via FRCSW’s Capital Investment Program (CIP) which invests in new technologies and equipment to improve production efficiencies.

“The furnace was custom made for our use and took almost a year to manufacture,” noted (CIP) project manager Martha Hoffman. “The equipment arrived May 15, and the sign off (acceptance) was July 2.”

The furnace chamber may accommodate components up to 60 inches in diameter and height. It is operated through a Program Logic Control (PLC) interface system that will log and archive events through date, time and duration. The console will also notify the operator if the unit is faulting and location of the fault.

“The PLC is user-friendly. The operator will input the amount of time and temperature for the heating process and if or when the part needs to be turned,” Hoffman said. “The computer will retain that information. So when another part comes in for treatment, the operator will just enter that part number or identifier and will be ready to go. This minimizes the room for error.”

The furnace operates under a chill water and closed-looped system.

“We have a secondary tank for the water and one for the argon (cooling). It’s all regulated by the PLC and the pump so the pressure is the same every time the furnace is used,” Hoffman said.

In addition to maintaining consistent pressure, other safety features include an automatic shut down if the unit exceeds a set temperature or if the argon level falls below a set threshold or its flow is interrupted, and railings and walkways with harnesses for fall protection.

In June, approximately 20 FRCSW personnel completed a 48-hour training session conducted by the manufacturer.

The new unit replaces a model that was more than 50-years old with a four-year history of sporadic operation. Difficulty in maintenance and increasingly obsolete replacement parts often resulted in a 60-80 percent down time, causing some LM2500 work to be contracted out.

Hoffman said that the new unit will save the command about six months in turn-around time per part vice contracted workload, and that 12-15 components will be tested weekly.

FRCSW is scheduled to overhaul about 15 LM2500 engines annually.