Corpus Christi Army Depot artisans keep Chinook in production
May 8, 2012
By Jaclyn Nix
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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (May 8, 2012) -- Two Corpus Christi Army Depot electrical technicians took necessary actions to keep production rolling on the CH-47 Chinook.
The Corpus Christi Army Depot, or CCAD, offers rotary wing support to a number of Department of Defense helicopters, including the CH-47 Chinook. CCAD is the largest helicopter repair facility in the world and a vital component of the depot industrial base.
In December 2010, CCAD learned that an essential CH-47 Chinook component, a rheostat for the dash actuator, was being replaced with a newer version because original equipment manufacturers would not be able to produce the newer rheostat until May 2012.
This had the potential to ground Chinooks as they waited for the upgrade.
The Chinook is a multi-mission, heavy-lift transport helicopter that moves troops, artillery, ammunition and much more to the battlefield. The CH-47 dash actuator enables the helicopter to maintain air speed, pitch and positive stick gradient in the automatic flight control system. The rheostat gives the pilot the reading of where the dash actuator is on the forward and retract positions.
Approximately 300 rheostats were going to be discarded since they were no longer compatible with the new criteria. Electricians were told to stall working on the part until the new contract went into place. This issue put the program in jeopardy along with putting the warfighter on hold because the aircraft could not be completed.
With the work stoppage potentially effecting the combat power of the troops, CCAD artisans strove to find a solution that would keep the Chinook in the air.
In November 2011, Lanelle Marley and Kevin Lacour, Electrical Technicians at CCAD, discovered that some of the older rheostats could comply with the new criteria with a slight alteration. The idea received approval through the U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, known as AMRDEC, and Boeing to keep the actuator in production as long as the rheostat met all requirements.
"We mechanics, who have spent many years disassembling and reassembling the components are very familiar with the inner workings of our assets," said Lanelle Marley, journeyman mechanic. "We can see things that can be tweaked in order to meet the new criteria and still maintain the integrity of the component."
After the modified rheostat passed its final tests, Marley and Lacour updated the older rheostats to get production back underway until the new product hit the shelves.
"Ms. Marley and Mr. Lacour have exhibited an extraordinary performance in support of the Directorate of Accessories and Rotor Blade goal of continuously exceeding production in support of our customers," said Eliseo Garza, Rotating Electric branch chief. "Ms. Marley possesses great qualities and has the drive to not only push herself but push others around her."
"It's all a part of my job and I am proud to say that I am a CCAD mechanic supporting our men and women warfighters," said Marley.