WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in Hawaii. FRC
Southwest’s IPT also works from three other sites:
Camp Pendleton and MCAS Miramar in California and
Yuma MCAS, Ariz. North Island does depot-level work
on the CH- 53 helicopter and, just recently, the MQ-8B
Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
The MQ-8B work is happening in Building 325, alongside the H- 60. Unlike the older facilities, there is plenty
of room. Expansive ground-level work spaces support
up to 30 aircraft at a time, officials said. The building
is split into four main bays: Disassembly/examination-evaluation, repair, assembly and space for standalone
modifications, special rework or in-service repair.
Wide concrete aprons surround the building, providing areas for testing and work on helicopters arriving
for the depot pipeline. Efficiency is even built into the
design, with tool organizers, storage rooms and workshops placed where needed.
With the new building layout, “our capacity and
throughput will be quickly increased,” said Michelle
Gomez, Integrated Product Team lead. “We’ll see
improvement on the cycle time.”
Previously, the depot brought in an aircraft and
returned another every five days, on average. As of
April 1, with the new hangar, officials expect that to
shrink to three days.
A new multidirectional crane in each bay saves time
and effort shifting aircraft for specific heavy-duty work.
The building has three cranes with 15,000-pound
capacity and one that can lift 18,000 pounds, enough
to lift a helicopter and place it into a laser alignment
fixture that will be installed this year.
The old buildings’ cranes had less lift and only
moved along a track, Cooper said.
“You had to push things back and forth. They didn’t
go lateral, in the other direction, so you’d actually have
to move the aircraft under what you were putting in to
drop down into the aircraft,” he said. Now “you’re not
pushing the aircraft trying to get it to line up perfect
with the part that’s hanging.”
The building is designed for tow-in and tow-out, so
workers already are spending less time moving around
aircraft. One of the old depot buildings had two tight
aircraft parking spots.
“There was only enough room to squeeze one behind
them, so we would be constantly moving aircraft out of
the way to move another one,” Cooper said. “It could
take days sometimes to move 12 aircraft in a row, just to
daisy-chain them around where they had to go.”
“And we had to tow them between buildings for the
different phases,” Gomez added. “Every time you had
to move, you need spotters and personnel.”
All that extra time quickly added up to delays.
Schedules often have some cushion built in for
unforeseen work, but “when you were eating them
up, doing stuff like moving aircraft, you are losing
half a day here and there. When we get to the end,
it’s like you have no more margin left. So if they do
have some sort of late find, they can’t absorb it” into
the schedule, said Cmdr. Mark Angelo, the program
The new H- 60 Seahawk helicopter maintenance facility at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest aboard Naval Air Station
North Island, Calif., is the Navy’s only facility solely dedicated to the support and service of the multimission Seahawk.
The 100,000-square-foot helicopter maintenance facility combines large working bays and consolidated office spaces,
and replaces three smaller, 1930s-era buildings.