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Cutting corners.

In my year at the Naval Safety Center I have surveyed nearly every type, model series, and (T/M/S) of aircraft in the Navy and Marine Corps inventory, and that's an extensive list, encompassing everything from the P-3 Orion that took its first flight in 1959 to the Joint Strike Fighter that is in its service-life infancy.

The PRs and Marine 6048s, "Flight Es", are working their tails off keeping up with maintenance requirements on the Aviation Life Support System (ALSS) equipment while facing a multitude of challenges to completing their tasks. It seems that each geographic region and T/M/S has unique issues when it comes to flight equipment and its related maintenance. Whether those challenges are in the form of MALS and FRC turnaround time and availability, fielding new platforms and experiencing the growing pains that come with new gear or fighting the uphill battle to change established community mentalities, the toll on the affected work centers is the same: Corners are being cut.

The severity and scope of the corner cutting has run the gamut from not properly performing the preoperational inspection on a sewing machine to having crews in the air with down ALSS. The work centers have commented that causal factors for these shortfalls range from lack of manning to being pushed too hard to meet planned schedules. While these topics may be valid points of concern the first step of resolution is for the leadership in the work centers to assess the situations causing the problems, and do their best to balance their work loads, time constraints, manning, and training. The supervisors must communicate these road blocks to their shop chief, maintenance control, QA, and the maintenance officer. Once the situation is assessed, resources balanced, and needs communicated, it is time to do the tasks at hand. Debrief the outcome of their efforts and re-engage as needed to continue to improve processes in the work centers.

While the PRs and 6048s are on point the vast majority of the time when it comes to doing business by the book, I have found that aircrews, officer and enlisted, need to buckle down and get back into the habit of performing pre-and post-flight inspections of their personally issued flight equipment. The 3710.7 General NATOPS refers to the NA 13-1-6 (Series) manuals for specific guidance on performing the pre-and-post flight inspections. Many Navy and Marine Corps ALSS work centers have developed locally generated desktop procedures that pull information from and reference the NA 13-1-6 (Series) and NAVAIR 00-80T123 to aid aircrews in the completion of the inspections. Also it is highly recommended to have a senior PR or 6048 attend quarterly or semi-annual aircrew training to run through the pre-and-post flight requirements and to have hands on training that encompasses NA 13-1-6 (Series) and NAVAIR 00-80T123 requirements; where the individual survival items are located, how they operate, configuration, and how to stow the items. The lack of pre-and-post flight inspections leads to unaccounted for FOD in aircraft, unreported maintenance requirements for the ALSS and a lack of familiarity with the gear, which could lead to the loss of aircrew and aircraft.

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Author:Adams, James
Date:Jun 22, 2014
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