USA — Corpus Christi Army Depot artisans keep Chinook in production

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Two Cor­pus Christi Army Depot elec­tri­cal tech­ni­cians took nec­es­sary actions to keep pro­duc­tion rolling on the CH-47 Chi­nook.

The Boe­ing CH-47 Chi­nook
Cor­pus Christi Army Depot Elec­tri­cal Tech­ni­cians found a way to recy­cle old rheostats, a part that goes on the CH-47 dash actu­a­tor, to make it com­pat­i­ble with the new cri­te­ria.
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The Cor­pus Christi Army Depot, or CCAD, offers rotary wing sup­port to a num­ber of Depart­ment of Defense heli­copters, includ­ing the CH-47 Chi­nook. CCAD is the largest heli­copter repair facil­i­ty in the world and a vital com­po­nent of the depot indus­tri­al base.

In Decem­ber 2010, CCAD learned that an essen­tial CH-47 Chi­nook com­po­nent, a rheo­stat for the dash actu­a­tor, was being replaced with a new­er ver­sion because orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers would not be able to pro­duce the new­er rheo­stat until May 2012.

This had the poten­tial to ground Chi­nooks as they wait­ed for the upgrade.

The Chi­nook is a mul­ti-mis­sion, heavy-lift trans­port heli­copter that moves troops, artillery, ammu­ni­tion and much more to the bat­tle­field. The CH-47 dash actu­a­tor enables the heli­copter to main­tain air speed, pitch and pos­i­tive stick gra­di­ent in the auto­mat­ic flight con­trol sys­tem. The rheo­stat gives the pilot the read­ing of where the dash actu­a­tor is on the for­ward and retract posi­tions.

Approx­i­mate­ly 300 rheostats were going to be dis­card­ed since they were no longer com­pat­i­ble with the new cri­te­ria. Elec­tri­cians were told to stall work­ing on the part until the new con­tract went into place. This issue put the pro­gram in jeop­ardy along with putting the warfight­er on hold because the air­craft could not be com­plet­ed.

With the work stop­page poten­tial­ly effect­ing the com­bat pow­er of the troops, CCAD arti­sans strove to find a solu­tion that would keep the Chi­nook in the air.

In Novem­ber 2011, Lanelle Mar­ley and Kevin Lacour, Elec­tri­cal Tech­ni­cians at CCAD, dis­cov­ered that some of the old­er rheostats could com­ply with the new cri­te­ria with a slight alter­ation. The idea received approval through the U. S. Army Avi­a­tion and Mis­sile Research Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter, known as AMRDEC, and Boe­ing to keep the actu­a­tor in pro­duc­tion as long as the rheo­stat met all require­ments.

“We mechan­ics, who have spent many years dis­as­sem­bling and reassem­bling the com­po­nents are very famil­iar with the inner work­ings of our assets,” said Lanelle Mar­ley, jour­ney­man mechan­ic. “We can see things that can be tweaked in order to meet the new cri­te­ria and still main­tain the integri­ty of the com­po­nent.”

After the mod­i­fied rheo­stat passed its final tests, Mar­ley and Lacour updat­ed the old­er rheostats to get pro­duc­tion back under­way until the new prod­uct hit the shelves.

“Ms. Mar­ley and Mr. Lacour have exhib­it­ed an extra­or­di­nary per­for­mance in sup­port of the Direc­torate of Acces­sories and Rotor Blade goal of con­tin­u­ous­ly exceed­ing pro­duc­tion in sup­port of our cus­tomers,” said Eliseo Garza, Rotat­ing Elec­tric branch chief. “Ms. Mar­ley pos­sess­es great qual­i­ties and has the dri­ve to not only push her­self but push oth­ers around her.”

“It’s all a part of my job and I am proud to say that I am a CCAD mechan­ic sup­port­ing our men and women warfight­ers,” said Mar­ley.

U.S. Army