NAVAIR trials wireless hangars
US Naval Air Systems Command has carried out a pilot study with Marine Corps Systems Command, installing wireless capability in eight marine corps hangars.
The wireless capability resulted in enhanced efficiency and improved readiness aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River, reducing the need for maintainers to walk between parked aircraft and maintenance bays to use networked computers to log the administrative portion of their work.
Because the computers are not collocated with the aircraft, maintainers make an average of six to 24 trips per work order, with the average time spent traveling to and from the aircraft between 12 and 24 minutes per trip. After just a few work orders, this transit time adds up quickly across an entire squadron. In addition, local system administrators make technical upgrades to each networked workstation on a regular basis, in part to provide necessary technical publication updates maintainers rely upon to execute their mission. All updates are done manually, which also adds administrative time to maintainer workloads.
In response to these inefficiencies, the marine corps initiated a pilot study examining the value of installing wireless capability to improve flight line maintenance process and increase aviation readiness – a strategic imperative for the US Navy.
The wireless network in each hangar was designed and configured in accordance with the Defense Information Systems Agency Approved Project List and the Security Technical Information Guides for wireless local area network. After the wireless network was installed, the number of trips to and from aircraft ranged from one to four, down from six to 24. The average time spent traveling to and from each work order ranged from three minutes to 12 minutes, down from 12 to 24 minutes per trip. The average number of work orders completed increased from 60 to 76 per day. The average number of ready basic aircraft also known as aircraft that can be employed, increased from five to seven per day.
Jeffrey Allen, PMA-260’s PEMA integrated product team lead, said: ‘Wireless and [Portable Electronic Maintenance Aids] allows maintainers to concentrate on the mission, not be hampered by antiquated manual processes and restricted access to the digital tools they need; connectivity at the aircraft will increase speed and accuracy when maintaining aircraft.’
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