REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Four years ago, Richard "Dick" Spivey brought to the Army nearly 50 years of experience with one of the nation's top helicopter manufacturers.
As the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center's Aeroflightdynamics Directorate technical director at Moffett Field, Calif., Spivey has been instrumental in the development of the Future Vertical Lift program, officials said. The directorate is developing a family of vehicles to replace the Army's current fleet of helicopters.
With his term in the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program ending, Spivey leaves behind him a legacy and a path for his fellow engineers to follow as they work toward achieving their aviation goals.The Future Vertical Lift and the Joint Multi Role programs were what drew Spivey out of retirement and out to California when the U.S. Army came asking for him."It's a big program, and as such, it has a lot of ups and downs and ins and outs that will happen. While it's a long ways from being solid, we think it's moving pretty well and so far so good," said Spivey of FVL.Spivey had a 47-year career at Bell Helicopter."I had the V-22 Osprey program at Bell Helicopter, and that program also had its ups and downs and ins and outs, so my experience and background in that probably helped," Spivey said. "We're marching down that road as an Army right now so I'm really pleased that that has happened."In addition to FVL, the directorate has a multitude of other programs and is on the leading edge of rotorcraft technology, but Spivey said there's still a lot about rotorcraft that is yet to be discovered and therefore plenty for the Army to do in this area."A helicopter is a very mysterious beast. It's something that we've been doing for years, and the challenge of really understanding it completely is still in front of us. We don't understand it near as well as we should, but maybe we will at some point in the future," Spivey said.Spivey's vision also includes building more dependable aircraft that cost less in time and money to maintain than the current fleet."We spend a lot more maintaining airplanes than we do buying them, and we shouldn't do that. We have got to design rotorcraft so that they don't need work done on them, that they are dependable. I like to use the words: they get up and go to work every morning. They're not in the shop being worked on," Spivey said.As he retires, his current Deputy Director Barry Lakinsmith will become the new AFDD Director.The Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program, IPA, allows for the temporary assignment of personnel from certain institutions, such as colleges and universities and research and development centers, to government agencies.