NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 823rd Maintenance Squadron is currently undergoing a process that will reduce the amount of down time for the HH-60 Pave Hawks here and ultimately save the Air Force money.
Just like any other aircraft, after flying a certain number of hours and completing the Air Force’s mission, the HH-60 is inspected to ensure it is functioning properly.
During the phase inspection every piece of equipment on the aircraft is evaluated to ensure its serviceability for continued use.
The accelerated phase, also known as the ‘Hollywood phase’ by the 823rd MXS, is designed to reduce the amount of time it takes to fully inspect and repair the aircraft.
“We’re taking the inspection from about 45 calendar days, to 17 to 18 calendar days,” said Master Sgt. Ian David Holmes, 823rd MXS phase dock section chief.
This goal was established by calculating a complete inspection of the aircraft took a total of 532 hours, from start to finish.
The squadron considered they would be more efficient to turn an aircraft quicker if they doubled the amount of shifts being worked from two to four.
“We identified the fact with an increased level of manning, non-traditional shifts, adequate supply and support, we can [finish the inspection] in 17 days,” Holmes said. “It’s going to redefine the dynamic for the phase [inspection] in the U.S. Air Force.”
If the test of this accelerated phase proves to be effective at the 823rd MXS, it will affect all HH-60 squadrons across the Air Force.
Turning the aircraft rapidly is important for the Air Force because it increases the HH-60 availability, according to Holmes.
The goal of the Hollywood phase is to help resolve this issue.
“By reducing the amount of [total] time that we’re doing the inspection, we’re able to generate more aircraft for the flightline,” Holmes said. “If we can get these aircraft into phase inspection, get them inspected and turn out a quality product quicker, it gives them the ability to fly the amount of hours they need.”
When an aircraft is in phase inspection and unable to fly, other aircraft have to cover the flying hours that would have otherwise been flown by the aircraft undergoing maintenance. The extra hours flown by other aircraft to offset the aircraft in maintenance ultimately cost the Air Force more money.
“[Having aircraft in phase inspection] means we don’t have enough aircraft to complete training and mission [requirements],” Holmes said.
To accommodate for the extra shifts and having the maintenance shop run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a surge in manpower is required.
Twelve aircraft maintainers from the 923rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., have come to Nellis to help man the extra shifts.
In addition to expediting the inspection and maintenance process, the accelerated phase also provides different units the opportunity to work with one another.
“It’ll be great to get more helicopters flying if [the program] works. It’s nice working with Nellis guys, it’ll help build relationships with our sister units for the future,” said Staff Sgt. Branden Parisi, flying crew chief assigned to the 923rd AMXS from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
A benefit to having the accelerated phase happen at Nellis, as opposed to another base, is materials and maintenance support are available. The squadron does not have to contact another unit for supplies, or let another squadron decide if their piece of broken equipment is a high priority.
“Support is readily available. By having the sheet metal shop here on site we can prioritize what needs to get done the quickest,” Holmes said.
Being able to set their own priorities and not having to wait on outside help for materials or manpower to fix a piece of broken equipment, combined with the increase in manpower and shifts, saves time and ultimately, money.