Maximizing Our Efforts
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 JOHN LANAN
Joint Force Headquarters-Virginia
Virginia Army National Guard
Fort Pickett, Virginia
An Army aviation maintenance complex shares many of the attributes of a crime scene. When something goes wrong, or a crime is committed, there are many pieces to the puzzle. If left to their own, each one has varying degrees of value. But pieced together, they form a picture that can be of great value, impact efficiency dramatically and, ultimately, affect the safe operation of our aircraft.
In the aviation world, when a failure occurs on a helicopter, you have a number of variables and players. First, you have the pilot, pilot in command and crew chiefs who experienced the failure. Next, you have the maintenance personnel, along with their troubleshooting trees and test equipment. Along with that, you have the data captured in flight instruments and recorders. And don’t forget U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and the host of other manufacturers’ technical representatives. Take all of this and throw in a group of maintenance test pilots and you have an idea of the need to pool your resources.
This all came to light recently, when one of our UH-60s had to perform an emergency landing into a corn field about five miles from our facility. The crew started experiencing a degree of high-siding and a slew of flight instrument indication anomalies. As they monitored the situation, they noticed some unusual noises coming from the No. 1 engine and a drop in rotor RPM. The situation seemed sketchy at best, and it was decided to go into lockout and put the aircraft down.
A maintenance team was dispatched and attempted some rapid troubleshooting in hopes of a quick fix. After no luck and the weather turning, it was decided to get the aircraft out of the farmer’s field and back home for some tender loving care. So, a tow team assembled and off it went.
This is where I entered the picture. I’m an avionics shop supervisor, and a couple of my guys were on the team dispatched to the scene. The problem was quite complex in that it involved most of the components mentioned in the previous paragraph (crew, maintenance, recorder data, technical reps, etc.). But what intrigued me was orchestrating a coordinated effort to pull all of the information and assets together at our disposal. Off I went, emailing, interviewing, phoning and analyzing. Along the way, I gathered information, passed it on, formulated reports and did whatever I could to expedite and elevate the findings and indications.
While interacting with all of the players, we were able to put together a clear picture of what happened that was agreeable to all. In doing so, it gave us in maintenance a path that allowed us to zero in on a specific area of the aircraft and eventually down to the problem. It also gave us the assurance that we had covered all of the bases to safely release the aircraft to the maintenance test pilots. The aircraft is now back up and flying missions again.
We in the Army aviation community have an enormous network with a wealth of knowledge and expertise that we can pool together at a moment’s notice. This example is just one of many that probably occur across not just in aviation, but any number of endeavors within the Army as a whole. Just as with a crime scene, we want to move safely and accurately and thoroughly pull together all of those resources to maximize our efforts and achieve mission success.