Ready, Responsive and Mobile - PAE's Military Aviation Maintenance Support
Source: Q4 2015 Inside PAE. Click here for the PDF of the article as it originally appeared in the PAE employee magazine.
PAE provides aviation field support and sustainment maintenance for the U.S. Army in the Western United States through the Regional Aviation Sustainment Management in the Pacific region (RASM-P) contract.
Support for Military Aircraft
Based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington State, the PAE RASM-P team supports active duty military, National Guard and Reserve aircraft requirements in the Western United States region for the U.S. Army. Since the program start in 2013, the RASM-P team has employed up to a total of 400 employees, a number that shifts with worldwide events. The team currently employs more than 250 personnel. Their range of support includes the provision of personnel, management, material, parts, supplies, transportation and equipment.
Army Reset Program Leads to RASM-P Growth
PAE manages a significant reset program out of JBLM for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters. During a reset operation, PAE takes in aircraft that have returned from theater, identifies and repairs any structural problems, tests the aircraft and then returns the aircraft to the customer for re-deployment. Since contract start-up in March 2013, PAE has reset 65 UH-60 helicopters and 30 CH-47 helicopters.
Due to down-sizing of the aviation field maintenance directorate program to two major facilities, the U.S. Army reset program at JBLM is winding down. “Although the reset program under RASM-P is ending, PAE’s ability and dedication to supporting aircraft for the U.S. Army has led to new opportunities under the contract,” said PAE Program Manager Dan Utinske. “There are several satellite locations throughout the United States and at an atoll in the Marshall Islands where PAE will continue with aviation maintenance support.”
Traveling Aircraft Maintenance Support
“Our relatively small group of approximately 250 personnel on RASM-P is required to support satellite locations; we can have up to 70 personnel on the road at any time supporting various missions,” said PAE JBLM Site Manager Scott Spiva.
Travel to perform the necessary work varies from a couple of weeks to several months. “We never say no to a mission; actually that is one of our strengths: to be able to support them [the customer] without hesitation,” said Robert Dashiell, PAE’s Site Manager at the National Training Center.
“Bottom line is we provide support where it is needed, when it is needed, at the customer’s request,” said Scott.
Intensive Inspection and Repair Program
PAE also manages an intensive inspection and repair program on the Sikorsky UH-60 helicopter. The program, called Airframe Structural Evaluation and Repair (ASER), is a “repair process that involves a complete removal of all components, media blasting the helicopter to bare metal, in-depth inspection of all structural components, repair/replacement of major structural components and rebuild of the aircraft to a near-factory specifications as achievable,” explained Scott.
“We basically take it down to the screws,” added Dan. “There was a General-level ground officer unfamiliar with the aviation maintenance process visiting us once. When he saw how far down we took an aircraft, he panicked slightly until the process was explained to him.”
The extensive overhaul PAE conducts takes anywhere from six months to a year to complete. Because overhauls can cost up to $1M per aircraft, PAE is looking for cost-effective solutions to reduce costs to below several hundred thousand dollars,” said Scott. “We know that 144 UH- 60s are coming out of Korea and are scheduled to go to various locations. We want JBLM to be the site of choice for these and others. We have proven the quality of our support. Now we are looking for ways to save the government money, while continuing to provide top-quality services.”
So far, PAE has completed the ASER program on four helicopters.
“Deadlines are tight because the aircraft we service have ongoing, real-world missions,” said Dan. “We provide mission support here at home so our troops can do their mission in theater.”
About 90 percent of the 250 PAE employees on the RASM-P contract are veterans. Some employees have been on the contract for 30 years. “Our veteran employees are proud to continue supporting the U.S. military after retiring from active duty,” said Scott. “They find it rewarding to know that they are still contributing to military missions around the world.”
Rapid Response Missions
Another PAE requirement under the RASM-P contract is rapid response for U.S. Army, Reserve and National Guard contingency operations in the western region. “If a mission pops up that requires us to send 50 people somewhere quickly for aviation maintenance, we do it,” said Dan.
In the spring of 2015, the team had a short-notice mission that required a team in Hawaii to modify a CH-47 aircraft for a unit on an accelerated deployment schedule. PAE quickly responded and worked 60- and 70-hour workweeks to accomplish the requirement on schedule.
“The work we do under RASM-P essentially boils down to PAE covering every facet of aircraft maintenance in our region,” said Dan. “We may investigate an accident involving an aircraft, assist with port operations, reset aircraft for foreign military sales, and support unscheduled maintenance and unit support. We do it all and are proud to support our customer.”
“I love my job; I have the greatest job in the world,” said PAE Chief Test Pilot Clint Estes.