An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Nov. 24, 2020

FRCSW Test Line Ensures Quality Aircraft to the Fleet

By Jim Markle

Other than assets trucked to Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI), the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Test Line Support Facility is the first and last stop made by an aircraft to the command.

Located at the far Western portion of NASNI, the Test Line is where the command inducts aircraft for maintenance and repair, and conducts test flights prior to customer delivery.

The facility covers almost 1.5 million square feet and includes an 800,000 square-foot aircraft ramp, climate-controlled storage hangars, out-buildings, fabric work shelters and a main support building (785).

Before an aircraft is turned over to its production line, the squadrons maintenance charts and logbooks are reviewed as part of the initial induction process. 

On the flipside of that process, the Test Line and log sell procedures include final ground checks, test flights, and a review of all documentation to ensure that the work has been completed and certified.

Under naval regulations, any aircraft completing depot-level rework is required to complete at least one Functional Check Flight (FCF) prior to delivery to determine the quality of work and the airworthiness of the aircraft. The FCF is the final step in Test Line procedures.

Four of the five major production lines at FRCSW bring their aircraft to the Test Line for FCF: F/A-18 Hornets, E-2C Hawkeyes, C-2A Greyhounds, H-53 Super Stallions and most recently, the MV-22 Osprey.

The H-60 Sea Hawk helicopter is the only aircraft that doesn't pass through the Test Line; though they may be stored there on a short-term basis.

Returning 21 F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft to the fleet during fiscal year (FY) 2020, FRCSW test flies more Hornets than any other airframe.

The Test Line selling phase begins once the aircraft is transported from Building 94 where the majority of repairs and maintenance are performed.

Once under the cognizance of the Test Line staff, it is checked, prepared, test flown, and returned to the customer.

The Hornets are also weighed when returned from maintenance because modifications or repairs can affect its weight. The planes are weighed again after painting (prior to delivery to the customer) to make sure they are within weight specifications.

Artisans assigned to the F/A-18 Test Line program include aircraft examiners (AE) and an examination evaluator (EE).

AEs initially issue discrepancies, fix discrepancies and decide when the aircraft is ready. They also assess the aircrafts functions to ensure a safe and proper flight. This includes the hydraulics, fuel system, air conditioning, engines, and cabin pressure.

While AEs turn the avionics on, electricians, EEs and electronic integrated systems mechanics perform the actual system checks.

In contrast to the volume of F/A-18 Hornets, only nine E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning and eight C-2A Greyhound transport aircraft were inducted and returned to the fleet in FY 2020.

Artisans who are AEs, mechanics, electricians, and avionics prepare the turbo-propeller airframe for flight at the Test Line.

During induction, artisans run a series of dynamic tests on all systems to check their condition.

Dynamic tests are those that engage the engines, hydraulics, fuel, radar, and other systems used in the flight of the aircraft.

Work on the E-2/C-2 airframe is done in Building 460 and is typically the aircrafts planned maintenance interval (PMI).

After PMI and any repairs, the aircraft are reassembled and returned to the Test Line where another round of dynamic tests are performed to ensure they meet pre-flight inspection status.

AEs test all of the systems except the avionics, which are tested by journeyman avionic artisans.

Solely serving Marine Corps squadrons throughout the west coast, the FRCSW CH-53 Super Stallion program returned six helicopters during FY 2020.

During induction, the main rotor blades are removed and the aircraft is de-fueled.

Afterward, the aircraft are transported to Building 378 where they undergo the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP)that includes structural repairs to the fuselage and any electrical wiring upgrades.

Work exceeding IMP specifications, like replacing engines or rotor heads that have exceeded their hour or life limit, is often done by the squadrons to save money.

AEs at the Test Line perform startups, systems, and electrical checks.

Unlike the F/A-18 and E2/C-2 programs, FRCSW does not have CH-53 pilots on staff. Instead, pilots from prospective squadrons are notified when an aircraft is ready for test flight and delivery.

FRCSW performs PMI services to MV-22s assigned to west coast squadrons.

On September 23, the command returned its first PMI-2 Osprey to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161), under the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Miramar.

FRCSW is scheduled to induct three MV-22s for PMI-2 in FY 2021.

Nov. 21, 2023

FRCSW at Fleet Week San Diego

On November 8 2023, Fleet Week in San Diego unfolded as a grand spectacle of innovation and technology, transforming the Port Pavilion Building into a vibrant hub of the future.

Nov. 10, 2023

Honor Flight San Diego’s Tribute to American Veterans

Veterans Day not only offers a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices of service members, but also serves as a poignant reminder of the price of liberty and the importance of acknowledging those who have borne its cost. This day reinforces the timeless truth: freedom is never free, and gratitude towards its guardians is eternally owed. Building on this spirit of reverence, organizations like Honor Flight San Diego (HFSD) work tirelessly to show tangible appreciation to these heroes.

Sept. 5, 2023

FRCSW STEM in Action

When Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) STEM ambassadors visit local communities, their goal is to utilize the STEM outreach program to inspire and create valuable opportunities to learn for both students and educators. The program also tries to empower both the students and FRCSW employees by fostering meaningful connections between Naval STEM efforts and the upcoming generation.

July 20, 2023

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

FRCSW Engineer Receives Assistant Secretary of Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists & Engineers of the Year Award

May 15, 2023

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

FRCSW Comptroller Receives Department of the Navy and Secretary of Defense Financial Management Awards

April 27, 2023

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

FRCSW E-2D Team Wins NAVAIR Commander’s Award

April 18, 2023

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

FRCSW Sailors Named 2023 Sailor of the Year

April 6, 2023

FRCSW Ally Support Strengthens Royal Australian Air Force

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) successfully completed a first of its kind reconfiguration of a U.S. Navy EA-6B Growler for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

March 31, 2023

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest - Eliminating Waste and Improving Efficiency

For over 100 years, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has provided the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps with the highest quality products and services in the most efficient manner possible. One of the state of the art management systems that makes this possible is the “Lean” process which focuses its attention on eliminating waste and error. FRCSW began the command’s most recent “Lean” process by integrating pre-expendable bins (PEB). Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Legg, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Industrial Supply Officer, in collaboration with the other PEB managers, played a pivotal role in the improvement of PEB inventory.

Sept. 26, 2022

FRCSW Navy’s Sole Maintainer of Rotodome Radar

A primary tool of the Hawkeye’s defensive posture is the rotodome radar system, maintained by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).