7-Apr-2022 Source: FRCE
Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) provides maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services that support a variety of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft around the world. The depot also provides service to the Fleet through training for aircraft maintenance professionals who can then return to their respective organizations with the skills they need to maintain aviation readiness.
Recently, FRCE facilitated a training that will assist Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRC WESTPAC), located at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, to stand up a planned maintenance interval (PMI) line for V-22 Osprey aircraft with Japanese industrial partner NIPPI Corporation. Three NIPPI Corporation contractors attended the two-week Advanced Composite Repair Level 2 course at FRCE, earning their certificates of completion March 11.
“Completing this training was very important for our partners,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Rodriguez, the Marine Corps liaison for FRC WESTPAC, who traveled to FRCE in support of the three NIPPI contractors enrolled in the course. “There is a requirement for NIPPI Corporation to have personnel trained in these techniques in order to stand up the PMI line. Without successful completion of the training, they wouldn’t be able to do the work.”
The training prepares the participants to perform advanced repairs and modifications to aircraft components made of composite materials – advanced materials used on newer aircraft that are lighter than most metals, said Charles Taylor, the composite fabricator training leader at FRCE.
Students first review the essentials of composite repairs, including facility requirements, tools, and fasteners, and key repair methods. Once the students have refreshed their basic composite skills, they spend the rest of the course doing hands-on training, practicing double vacuum debulk (DVD) repairs and other techniques. The Navy developed the DVD procedure as a way to strengthen composite materials by removing air during the curing process, and it works to increase the strength of the repair to near-autoclave standards, Taylor said.
“The course expands on what was learned in Advanced Composite Repair,” he explained. “While at Cherry Point, we included time to get some practical applications of DVD repairs. The students were able to perform a 23-ply DVD repair on a V-22 ramp. They also had to learn how to scarf sand composite materials, which is a technique that is best learned by spending time in the booth practicing.”
The construction of the V-22 Osprey relies heavily on composite materials. The majority of the aircraft’s exterior is composite, as are the rotor blades and some of the structural components inside. This makes it important for the artisans to have advanced composite repair skills. The practical, hands-on training they completed at Cherry Point will ensure they’re ready to complete any needed repairs, Taylor said.
“This training allows them to go back to Japan and perform the full range of composite repairs,” he added. “They inducted their first V-22 last month and I’m confident with their knowledge of composite materials and what they learned over the past two weeks, they can go back home and handle any repair that might come their way.”
Taylor said he was impressed with the students’ performance. He said there were occasional communication challenges but, as a group, they were able to work through them and overcome the language barrier. In the end, the NIPPI team turned in a noteworthy performance.
“These gentlemen were the first outside contractors we have trained to pass their practical exam on the first attempt,” Taylor said. “They did an excellent job.”
NIPPI Corporation is a longtime partner of the United States government, servicing military aircraft since the early 1950s. To date, NIPPI Corporation has worked on over 14,000 aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
FRCE is North Carolina’s largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.