CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi Army Depot achieved an unprecedented milestone, completing a record 48th UH-60 Black Hawk recapitalization this year. The recap program is the Army’s effort to reduce costs of replacing aging helicopters with new ones.
|The 48th Black Hawk sits outside on the Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas, flight line
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Corpus Christi Army Depot, or CCAD, saves taxpayers more than 45 percent by rebuilding an aircraft versus purchasing a new one from the manufacturer.
The program brings an Alpha model UH-60 Black Hawk into the depot, then after just under a year of upgrading and rebuilding the structural, engine, and airframe components with more capability and power, it comes out looking, smelling and performing like a brand new Lima model. Last year CCAD produced 38 A‑L recap Black Hawks.
Recap extends the life of a Black Hawk by 10 years while also ensuring each aircraft is equipped with the latest technology and systems.
“It took the entire team from Accounting to Aircraft Production and every single person at CCAD to meet the 48th Black Hawk,” said Col. Christopher Carlile, CCAD commander.
In addition to the challenge and motivation of working as a team to get the 48 out, many areas used processes and methods that save time and money. The release of the second alignment fixture, for instance, allowed for more time to be spent inside of the fixture.
The depot held a Final Assembly Inspection, or FAI, to reduce the number of defects and rework passed between Reassembly and Flight Test. This effort allows for more attention to the aircraft before it is moved to Flight Test.
Warranty Teams is another concept that came along with FAI. Flight Test inspects and completes the checks with ground power. Any defects found in Flight Test calls for a Warrant Team from the assembly line, AMG, avionics, electricians and the flight test crew to correct the defects without moving the aircraft back to a separate building.
“This played big dividends in experience sharing and resulted in a better than 50-percent reduction in defects passed to Flight Test,” said George Kunkle, chief for the Aircraft Support Division.
The aircraft cleaning team took actions to train employees by correcting capping and plugging of electrical connectors and even creating a third shift to meet the demands.
“The real key to obtaining the goal was the artisans resolve to meet a standard set higher than believed possible and the determination to carry it through without yielding to past beliefs and non-believers,” said Jamie Felgenhauer, Black Hawk Recapitalization division chief.
Production Control used multiple time-saving techniques to accomplish the record. They stuck with local support, insured a smooth flow of parts and assembled a team of key players to be on top of the ball with material availability for each aircraft before its arrival to the hangars.
“The biggest thing that made the 48 Black Hawks possible this year is the guys and gals on the floor,” said Aaron Shephard, UH-60 Recapitalization Structures section chief. “If they get challenged with something they aren’t going to back down. Everyone fought hard to cut down on the defects, work through the processes, and use what they had to put out 48 aircraft.”
“The entire Directorate of Aircraft Production was empowered and challenged to meet the customer’s requirements to most importantly provide the aircraft and support for our war fighters,” said Kunkle.
“In the past, we focused on singular efforts, support versus production. One without the other will fail,” said Col. Carlile. “CCAD has shown they are a team capable of playing at Super Bowl level.”