Defense Media Network

The Aviation Field Maintenance Directorate Improves Readiness, Safety, Availability, and Quality

Keep Em' Flying

New Directorate

Myles and Evans share much in common, having graduated from Middle Tennessee State University and earned Army commissions on the same day 10 years apart, in 1974 and 1984 respectively. Myles commanded an aviation company in Korea and later served in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment for four years as the simulations officer and regimental executive officer – an experience that familiarizes him with both regular-force and special operations helicopters.

He later commanded a brigade and was an assistant division commander. With a major chunk of his career devoted to aviation maintenance and air operations, Myles directed an effort to consolidate disparate functions in the helicopter maintenance world. Under the general’s guidance, experts in various aviation and aviation maintenance disciplines conducted an exhaustive study.

As a result, the Army established AFMD in July 2008. The directorate officially stood up in October 2008 and was considered finalized in June 2009, merging all AMCOM aviation maintenance activities into one organization for the purpose of providing better support to the warfighter. Its headquarters is co-located with AMCOM in a semi-modern, seven-story building with a distinctive green tile roof at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

Mechanics disassemble a redeployed UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in a hangar at Campbell Army Airfield. The Fort Campbell Aviation Logistics Management Division was resetting about 10 Black Hawks on a 75-day schedule that enabled Army aviation units to get their aircraft back in time for training and future deployments. U.S. Army photo by Joe Parrino.

Better support for the warfighter was a timely goal. As Joe Parrino wrote in the Fort Campbell, Ky., Courier, helicopters have been “carrying out intense missions under extreme weather and terrain.” There is no real precedent for the magnitude and duration of mechanical challenges facing Army helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan. If AFMD weren’t already addressing those challenges, it would have to be invented.

Imagine a process that falls somewhere between routine scheduled maintenance and major depot overhaul – “that great space between the unit level and depot level,” Evans called it in an Aug. 6 telephone interview. That’s Reset. It reduces the time a helicopter spends away from its unit and allows the chopper to spend more time serving the Soldier. As Myles and Evans frequently explain in a briefing on the practice, Reset consists of:
100 percent disassembly of the aircraft and dynamic components (engines, rotor systems, drive trains, and flight control systems);

100 percent cleaning of all airframe and component elements;
100 percent serviceability inspection of all airframe and component elements;
modifying the aircraft according to Department of the Army directions;
100 percent review and correction of historical records;
refurbishment and replacement of all components to serviceability standards; and correction of any outstanding deferred maintenance actions.

The concept of Reset pre-dated AFMD by about half a decade. The Army introduced the concept in 2003 and reported in March 2009 that AFMD had Reset its 3,000th helicopter. Evans called this a “great achievement by the whole team,” including “the wrench turners and test pilots.”

At that time, AFMD and its predecessor organizations had Reset more than 1,400 Black Hawks, more than 500 Apaches, more than 325 Chinooks, and about 420 Kiowa Warriors. AMCOM used this landmark occasion to point out that the Reset program is seen as a great success and that several of its practices have been implemented in other Reset programs for Army assets such as wheeled and tracked vehicles.

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Robert F. Dorr is an author, U.S. Air Force veteran, and retired American diplomat who...