Since its introduction to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) about one year ago, the Naval Sustainment System (NSS) has enabled greater production and speed throughout the command to meet fleet readiness by combining best commercial practices with creative solutions.
FRCSWs CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter program is one example.
Maintenance of the Super Stallion is under a 54-month cycle called the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP), and although in the initial stages of NSS development, the CH-53E program has already realized dividends with the early return of four aircraft: two completed 15 days under the IMP standard, and two completed four days under the standard.
The IMP targets structural repairs to the fuselage and corrosion repairs throughout the aircraft. The current workload standard is 16,850 manhours hours per aircraft, and will increase to 20,839 manhours next fiscal year.
"We have been making changes throughout the process on what is the best sequence for maintenance," said George Nacker, CH-53 and MV-22 deputy program manager. "One thing is starting to implement NSS. We were already doing some portions of NSS, and are just getting our Production Control Center up and running, so there is still a lot more we need to implement, but what we have done seems to be working."
The logistical workhorse for Navy and Marine Corps operations for more than 30 years, about 150 Super Stallions remain in service today.
"We are trying to keep inducting only (Marine Corps Air Station) Miramar aircraft to meet their requirements, but ultimately it is up to Type Commander (TYCOM) on where our inductions come from," Nacker noted.
FRCSWs CH-53 program totals about 100 employees, 80 of whom are artisans from a variety of trades including sheet metal mechanic, electrician and mechanic.
The program operates in two buildings: 342, where component and fiberglass work is done, and 378 where the remaining airframe work is completed.
After induction, artisans disassemble the aircraft and begin IMP inspection specifications. The IMP combines organizational level (O-level), or work normally assigned to Marine Corps squadrons, with depot-level work.
Nacker said that artisans handle O-level work under the Depot Readiness Initiative (DRI) and 1A1A, or Mission and Other Flight Operations funding. Artisan O-level work totals approximately 750 hours annually.
"Having better accountability of the artisan work down to the work order has helped with planning each (maintenance) phase. We are looking to implement a chart for assembly. We still need to refine it a little, but it helps with work order tracking," Nacker said.
FRCSW is scheduled to induct eight CH-53s next year.