The TH-6B (a Navy derivative of the MD-369H) program consists of six McDonnell Douglas TH-6B Conversion-in-Lieu-of-Procurement aircraft used as an integral part of the United States Naval Test Pilot School's test pilot training syllabus. The aircraft and associated instrumentation and avionics are used for the in-flight instruction and demonstration of flying qualities, performance and missions systems flight test techniques. Each aircraft will fly an average of 150 hours per year. The USNTPS plans to utilize the TH-6B indefinitely.
The United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS), Patuxent River, MD had been operating 6 OH-6B aircraft using organic (Army) program management, engineering and logistics support. When the Army removed the OH-6B aircraft from their inventory, they disestablished their support to the USNTPS, rendering the aircraft unsupportable. The problem faced was finding a method to support the aircraft, or obtaining a replacement aircraft for use in the training syllabus. Utilizing the OEM's commercial configuration data, the aircraft were converted to a commercial type aircraft and now use the FAA/commercial maintenance practices. Program management support is provided by PMA-207, including engineering and logistics support. It requires only one program manager in PMA-207 and part-time support from AIR 3.0 and 4.0. When needed, expert engineering and/or logistics support is available via contract to the OEM.
The program office obtains sustaining engineering services from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems (MDHS). MDHS developed the TH-6B configuration of the USNTPS aircraft, and provides technical information necessary to achieve the aircraft's programmed service life and readiness rate, aircraft modification engineering and associated FAA certification efforts, and access to customer support and OEM publication services. All modifications will comply with the proven approach used in the FAA system. The aircraft are being operated by the military, and are maintained iaw FAA/commercial processes. To ensure aircraft reliability, the OEM inspected each aircraft and issued a Statement of Conformance certifying their conformance to the TH-6B configuration. Aircraft modification efforts are "turnkey" projects (procurement and installation) implemented as part of competitively awarded maintenance contracts. Where extensive integration efforts are required, the non-recurring engineering phase, including test and certification, is typically performed by MDHS under a sole-source engineering contract with the Navy.
On 19 February 1999 McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company, an indirect subsidiary of The Boeing Company, and MD Helicopters Holding, Inc., an indirect subsidiary of RDM Holding, Inc., completed an agreement on an asset purchase of the Boeing MD 500, MD 600N and MD Explorer series of light commercial helicopter product lines. MDHI is the Arizona Corporation who will be responsible for the manufacturer and support of the MD 369/500N/600N series and MD900 helicopters. MD Helicopters operated initially from existing Boeing facilities at Mesa's Falcon Field Airport. RDM, an industrial company with aerospace activities, also builds submarines and other defense vehicles. It is a subcontractor to Boeing for landing gear and fuselage assemblies for Apache helicopters.
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