STRATFORD, Conn. –
DCMA Sikorsky recently completed delivery of the latest iteration of the Pave Hawk family of helicopters for the U.S. Air Force.
The delivery of the first Low Rate Initial Production HH-60W “Jolly Green II” Combat Rescue Helicopter was seven years in the making when the original engineering and manufacturing development contract was signed between Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and the U.S. Air Force helicopter program office.
Over that period, DCMA Sikorsky performed contract administration services from the conception of the program to the present day. The team completed acceptance inspections of the initial 10 development aircraft along with the first LRIP aircraft.
DCMA quality assurance specialists conducted thorough inspections of both the aircraft and log books before aircrews performed a rigorous government flight acceptance to ensure all systems performed to specifications. DCMA aircrews also assisted with delivering the aircraft to Air Force test teams stationed at Kirtland, Moody, Edwards and Eglin Air Force Bases.
Daryl H. Brownell, a QAS with DCMA Sikorsky, was part of the team that had oversight of the aircraft from flight testing through aircraft acceptance.
“When the contractor has completed an aircraft, they present the aircraft to DCMA quality assurance for an aircraft shake, which is an in-depth aircraft inspection completed by the quality assurance team,” said Brownell, who has been with the program since its inception. The aircraft is then flown by contractor pilots for company flight acceptance. Once the aircraft CFA is completed, the aircraft is presented to the government pilots for government flight acceptance.
“Once the GFA is completed, the aircraft is prepared for DCMA acceptance. Before every contractor and government flight, the aircraft forms and log books undergo a flight records review by DCMA,” Brownell said. “All records and logs are thoroughly reviewed by DCMA before government acceptance.”
DCMA support went beyond flying. The entire DCMA HH-60W product support team consisting of engineers, quality assurance, contract administrators, industrial specialists and program integrators worked to ensure the program was executed effectively and on-time.
Dragos Nastase, an operations research analyst with DCMA Sikorsky, played a key role in ensuring the timeliness of the program.
“I’ve been working on the new helicopter for about two years. My responsibilities revolved around earned value management, which is basically following the project's schedule and expenditure to raise the alarm if the project goes off the planned time and money,” Nastase said.
An EV analyst or specialist looks at a project's expenditure and scheduling data and then statistically projects where the program is going to be on the timeline until the end in terms of dollars and time, Nastase explained. “By analyzing the project's data and report on the findings, our goal is to catch possible problems early enough to correct the direction the project was taking.”
Early on, there were a few logistical problems with the first two to three aircraft, which were resolved by the DCMA HH-60W PST and the Air Force helicopter program office, before it had an effect on the following seven aircraft, Brownell said.
Another challenge was that several of the HH-60W aircraft had to move from the final assembly location in West Palm Beach, Florida, to Duke Field, Florida, for testing, then moved again to Edwards Air Force Base, California, for further testing.
“All of this had to happen on a tight schedule, which challenged the entire DCMA HH-60W program support team and the Air Force helicopter program office,” Brownell said. “It was a team effort to overcome everything.”
Brownell, a retired Air Force reservist with 37 years of experience on various UH and HH platforms as a maintainer, flight engineer, and quality assurance specialist, said that he is proud to support the mission of providing the war fighters with the newest HH-60W aircraft.
“For me, it is especially satisfying because I was part of the Air Force combat search and rescue community for 18 of my 33 years of military service,” Brownell said.
Brownell said he felt encouraged with the quality of the new aircraft and that future aircrews would appreciate flying in it.
“To all my combat search and rescue brothers and sisters, enjoy this new HH-60W modernized aircraft,” Brownell said. “I wish the HH-60W would have been in service when I was still flying!”