By Mr. Justin Eimers (CECOM)March 20, 2014
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Tobyhanna Army Depot has been chosen as the repair source for a component of the Army's largest helicopter, the CH-47 Chinook, based on the installation's electronics expertise.
Technicians have begun repairing the Chinook T-55 Electronic Control Units (ECUs). The three-tier program supports the ECUs, which are built for the T-55 engine and replaces the Chinook digital control unit.
Depot ECU support includes test and inspect, conversion, and repair and overhaul programs. During testing and inspection, the units are inducted and run through a room temperature test to screen for any faults or failures. Units that successfully pass inspection move on to conversion where they receive upgraded software prior to a full mechanical inspection. Defective units receive upgraded software and hardware, and are fully disassembled and mechanically inspected. Parts are replaced, the unit reassembled, tested and sent for final inspection.
Nearly $1.2 million in funds have been authorized for all three phases of the program in fiscal 2014, with about 96 percent of that for the repair and overhaul program.
Christopher Meyers, chief of the depot's Airborne Communications/Instrument Branch, said the program not only serves a critical function but also opens the door to future workloads.
"This mission is important because it is supporting the current sustainment and modernization of our military's Chinook helicopters, which are scheduled to remain in the fleet through 2038," he said. "Our support for ECUs can open the door for additional workload as we display and improve our capability. It also gives us the opportunity to expand our support to similar units in other aircraft."
Because the depot is an AS9100/9110 Aerospace Certified installation, the ECU program is recognized as one that demonstrates effective quality management resulting in few defective products, less rework and a decrease in the cost of production. Electronics Mechanic Michael Grunza said the certification will give customers confidence in Tobyhanna ECU repairs.
"As an installation certified under AS9100/9110 and ISO 9001 standards, we will receive more exposure within the aerospace market," he said. "In turn, it could give us more workload while giving our customers a guarantee of a quality product."
Aerospace Standard 9100/9110 and ISO 9001 ensure that the depot's products and services consistently meet high standards of quality agreed upon by companies worldwide, and that quality is consistently improved.
Tobyhanna is the only approved source of repair for this item and is essential to the Program Manager Cargo Sustainment Directorate at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala. Ashlyn Isom, logistics management specialist in the directorate, said the depot provides significant benefits through its support for this program.
"Cargo Sustainment has chosen to live off of repairs coming out of Tobyhanna rather than buy new assets, resulting in large cost-savings," she said. "The mission is also important due to a high demand for ECUs in the field. The program affords the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command an opportunity to satisfy critical requirements for deployed aircraft operating in Afghanistan."
The depot has worked closely with Redstone Arsenal for more than three years to ensure the program's success. Isom and other Redstone personnel visited Tobyhanna to tour the maintenance areas. Claude McClendon, Cargo Sustainment logistics manager, said the visit was a large success.
"It was an opportunity to sit down face-to-face and discuss the program, its procedures and identify any issues," he said. "I was very impressed with the depot?'s maintenance [capability] and how well-structured and clean all the areas were."
Tobyhanna has identified several challenges throughout the early stages of the program, including problems with test equipment, troubleshooting procedures and training. Personnel at the depot and Redstone Arsenal have teamed up to resolve these issues while meeting mission requirements.
"As expected, there has been a learning curve for everyone involved," said Isom. "This is something that we have already seen evolve and we believe it will continue to be a learning experience for us all."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.
Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, technology insertion, modification, and global field support to warfighters.
About 3,500 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.