If Army Helicopter Maintenance Is To Be Ready for Wartime, It Must Be Made Efficient and Effective in Peacetime

LCD-79-407: Published: May 10, 1979. Publicly Released: May 10, 1979.

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The Army owns about 8,000 helicopters. Routine maintenance normally is available at flight organizations or local repair shops. When maintenance requires more complex facilities, equipment, and skills, it is provided at the Corpus Christi, Texas, or New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, Army depots or contractor plants. The Army spends over $177 million annually for depot maintenance of helicopters and their components. In fiscal year 1976 the Secretary of Defense directed the Army to begin using reliability-centered maintenance. This means replacing the former use of extensive scheduled maintenance only when it is meaningful to safety, reliability, and economy.

To date, the Army's use of reliability-centered maintenance has been limited to airframe-related programs. The Army has not introduced this method for engines and other components. Its implementation should improve depot operations and reduce current inefficiencies, such as the overhauling of engines without defects simply because they have reached a maximum allowed operating time. Depot effectiveness could be further improved if the Army: (1) reduced concurrent rework of aircraft components and made greater use of the exchange method; (2) made greater use of opportunities to batch process component repair; (3) eliminated the practice of repairing components that are in long supply; and (4) performed only work at the depots which could not be accomplished by field units. At the Corpus Christi Army Depot, it was found that labor and production information were not being properly recorded and reported.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should: (1) establish realistic mobilization helicopter depot maintenance requirements; (2) assess private industry's helicopter depot maintenance capability and capacity so that the Army can match requirements effectively to resources; (3) implement the reliability-centered maintenance concept for engines and components; (4) eliminate repairing components that are in long supply; (5) discontinue routine concurrent component repair and make greater use of the exchange method; (6) batch process component repair when feasible; (7) study the Navy's practice of returning overhauled helicopters to the unit from which they came in an effort to reduce the amount of field level work being done at depots; (8) require system discipline and integrity needed to improve existing inadequacies concerning labor, production, and costs reporting; (9) require that the Army's reporting system for rework be revised so that the costs of all rework are captured; and (10) provide greater management support and reinforcement of the work measurement program so that standards are updated regularly and methods improvements studies are made before standards are established.

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