Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) reached another milestone in its history of maintenance, repair and overhaul services to naval aircraft by completing its first Planned Maintenance Interval-Two (PMI-2) event on an MV-22 Osprey.
FRCSW inducted the tiltrotor aircraft Jan. 31, 2019, and completed a check flight following the maintenance event Sept. 14, 2020.
The vertical/short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) aircraft plays a crucial role in the logistics of Marine Corps operations, and often serves as a transport in support of combat missions.
Maintenance of the MV-22 is under the Navy's Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP), conducted through PMI-1 and 2 cycles. The IMP model targets the structural integrity of the airframe and applies to other naval aircraft including the H-60 Sea Hawk helicopter and the F/A-18 Hornet fighter.
PMI specifications were developed by engineers and the IMP lead from FRC East at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point.
FRCSW completed its first PMI-1 event on an Osprey in May 2016 at its site aboard MCAS Miramar.
PMI-2 is performed at the commands North Island hub in Building 333, where up to three aircraft can be accommodated.
A thorough analysis of the aircraft, PMI-2 replaces or repairs areas and components identified by the PMI specifications. Procedures include induction, interior cleaning, disassembly, evaluation, repair, assembly, final assembly, paint and test line.
With the support of machinists and non-destructive inspection (NDI) technicians, approximately 20 artisans who are electricians, mechanics, sheet metal mechanics and aircraft examiners handle the event.
"PMI-2 has a work load standard of 482 days at the depot sites," said Michael Dixon, aircraft overhaul and repair supervisor. "North Island plans to cut this turn-around time down to a 250-280 day timeframe, depending on the material condition of the aircraft."
Marine Corps squadrons fly the Ospreys to the commands test line where the aircraft undergo the induction process prior to towing to Building 333.
The aircrafts engines are removed and preserved during induction, and the fuel cells and different panels are removed. This portion of disassembly is considered organizational-level (O-Level) maintenance, which is ordinarily handled by the squadrons.
Unlike its sites at MCAS Miramar and Kaneohe Bay where O-Level support is part of the Field Event PMIs held there, FRCSW North Island does not employ O-Level personnel for PMI-2.
"Per specifications, we are able to perform O-Level maintenance via Depot Readiness Initiative funding, along with support from (manufacturer) Bell Boeing," Dixon noted.
Repairs beyond PMI-2 specification require the squadrons to initiate a planner and estimator request to gain funding to complete the work.
Painting and weight/balance are some of the final steps in the process before testing and delivery of the aircraft. Unlike other airframes serviced by the command, the Osprey must be hand-sanded because of its unique aluminum, carbon/epoxy composite fuselage and empennage. Its wings and nacelles are also composite and fiberglass.
"Our current work-in-progress (aircraft) are all from Miramar squadrons. Typically, well perform PMI on all West Coast squadron aircraft, but if Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) deems necessary, then well induct aircraft from the East," Dixon said.
FRCSW returned its first completed PMI-2 Osprey September 23 to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161), under the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Miramar.
The command is scheduled to induct three MV-22s for PMI-2 in Fiscal Year 2021.