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NAPRA Takes Aircraft Maintenance to a New Level

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050418-01
Release Date: 4/18/2005 11:20:00 AM

By Jeff Kraftchak, Naval Air Facility Public Affairs

U.S. NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan (NNS) -- Naval Air Pacific Repair Activity (NAPRA) became the first U.S. Navy overseas location qualified to perform Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) 2 inspections on U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft Feb. 1.

PMI is an in-depth two-part inspection of an aircraft's various systems.

"During PMI 2, an aircraft is pretty much (stripped) down," explained NAPRA's E-2C Logistics Management Specialist Tommy Rogers. "It is separated into modules such as the wings, the pylon and the rotodome."

PMI 1 is conducted after 40 months of an aircraft's operational life, at which time engineers inspect all functions of an aircraft. PMI 2 is much more rigorous and is conducted 40 months after PMI 1 is completed. During both phases of PMI, aircraft undergo inspections and repairs to prevent excessive damage and to correct problems before they make an aircraft non-flyable. Rogers said that the ability to conduct PMI 2 on location has many benefits, but one of the most significant is the financial savings involved.

"Basically," he said, "(NAF) conducting PMI 2 saves the Navy about $2 million per aircraft."

Prior to adding the PMI 2 capability, NAPRA could only perform PMI 1. Any aircraft that needed to go through PMI 2 had to be sent back to qualified locations in the United States.

"The problem was that the E-2C has no in-flight refueling capabilities (and couldn't fly all the way back to the United States)," said Rogers. "The only way to get them to the States was to mothball the entire plane and ship it to the proper location on the first available ship.

"Each time we did that," he continued, "it cost the Navy approximately $1 million each way."

Having the capability to perform PMI 2 on location may represent a great savings to the Navy, but Lehmann said that getting to this point was a long and arduous effort.

"It took a team of people . one year to make the first overseas PMI 2 event possible," she said. "The team had to overcome obstacles unique to overseas depot maintenance, such as lack of assets, equipment and funding. There were those who believed it couldn't even be done.

"(However), all these problems were solved and we are now proud to be operational."

The new level of maintainence is performed by personnel from NIPPI Corp., a base contractor that has worked side by side with the Navy since 1953, according to Rogers.

"(With their help,) we can work on any of the aircraft in Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5," he said. "(This includes) the five E-2C aircraft from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115."

Rogers explained that most VAW squadrons only have four E-2 aircraft. However, VAW-115 is unique in that they maintain an extra one in order to ensure they can meet the underway requirement of four operational aircraft.

"That is one of the biggest benefits of our being able to conduct PMI 2 on their E-2Cs," Rogers said, "it increases the operational availability of the aircraft since we no longer have the delay caused by shipping them back and forth (from the United States)."

He added that although the first E-2C undergoing PMI 2 at NIPPI is expected to be completed by mid-August, there will be no resting on laurels for these hard-working technicians.

"The next E-2C is scheduled to undergo PMI 2 starting in September," he said. "This is what we worked towards, and it is certainly going to keep us busy."

No matter how busy they may be due to this new capability, both Rogers and Lehmann are proud of the way everyone involved pulled together to make it happen.

"This was a prime example of a team effort," Lehmann said. "Everybody did their part, and it all came together in the end.

"We could not have done it without each other's help."

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