Staff Sgt. Ryan Almy and Airman 1st Class Michael Vest, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit crew chiefs, change a bearing on an HH-60G Pave Hawk March 14, 2013. Almy is an Atlanta native and Vest hails from Hartselle, Ala. Airmen of the 56th HMU recently completed phase maintenance on an HH-60G Pave Hawk in record time. | (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)
Staff Sgt. Ryan Almy and Airman 1st Class Michael Vest, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit crew chiefs, change a bearing on an HH-60G Pave Hawk March 14, 2013. Almy is an Atlanta native and Vest hails from Hartselle, Ala. Airmen of the 56th HMU recently completed phase maintenance on an HH-60G Pave Hawk in record time. | (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

Archived Story

56th HMU airmen work smarter, set record

Published 9:06am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch

U.S. Air Force

RAF LAKENHEATH, England – The airmen of the 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit recently completed phase maintenance on an HH-60G Pave Hawk in record time.

The in-depth maintenance process, which involves inspecting and replacing major components, normally takes 75 days.

This time the 56th HMU did it in 37 days, which is a record for the smallest HH-60G Pave Hawk maintenance unit in the Air Force.

“I have an immediate impact. I have an extra aircraft available for operations,” said Master Sgt. C.J. Barnes, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit lead production superintendent and native of Mexico, N.Y. “I have an aircraft a month early to put into our flying schedule to take some of the strain off the other aircraft.”

According to the helicopter maintainers, though there was plenty of work involved, working smarter was the key to the new record.

“What we did differently on this one is we prepositioned a lot of the equipment and a lot of the parts that we knew based on historical data that were going to be bad, and we were going to end up changing,” Barnes said.

“So instead of getting the parts off, finding them bad, then ordering them and getting the part in, we already had it here,” he said. “So as soon as it came off and checked bad, the new part goes on.”

“That was probably the biggest time saver,” he added.

In addition to prepositioned parts, going from aircraft documentation forms to a paperless online system decreased the process time.

“Normally at the end of a phase there are about 1,000 pages, literally a thousand, to review and we totally averted that,” he said. That saved us a couple of days.”

Due to the in-depth nature of phase maintenance, it is not only necessary, but a training opportunity.

“It’s a great training opportunity,” said Staff Sgt. Alex Jaime, 56th HMU flying crew chief and native of Fresno, Calif. “If you give me one phase and one guy that is fresh out of tech school, by the time phase is done, he is fully qualified to do everything he needs to do on the flightline.”

The primary mission of the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war.

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