NAVAIR Commander: Making Progress on Readiness; Still a Long Way to Go
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
WASHINGTON — The Navy is making steady progress in restoring aircraft to flying status but still needs more progress in component repair, the service’s top aviation systems officer said.
“For the first time, in over five years, our FRCs [Fleet Readiness Centers] were largely able to meet the fleet demand for aircraft and engines,” Vice Adm. Dean Peters, who two weeks ago assumed his position as commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), testified June 14 before the House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee on Capitol Hill. “We produced 485 of 487 inspected aircraft, including 69 F/A-18A-Ds and more than the required number of F/A-18E/Fs. This was also done while improving the turn-around time by 5 percent.”
Peters said that “over the last two years, we’ve also been able to reduce the backlog that need in-service depot-level repairs [done at the field] by about 25 percent. This means we’ve put more aircraft back into the hands of the warfighter.”
He also cited areas in which more progress is needed.
“The not-so-good news is that our FRCs are not performing as needed in the area of component repair and overhaul, which is about 20 percent of our FRC workload and includes over 50,000 parts,” he said. “To date in fiscal year 2018, we’re lagging in this production by about 20 percent, which is better in previous years, but still unacceptable.
Peters listed areas of focus are workforce hiring, developmental training, quality of manufacturing and infrastructure upgrades.
“It’s this last area in which we need to concentrate,” he said. “Thanks to an infusion of repair funds in FY ‘18, we are able to schedule repairs on our highest-priority equipment.”
Peters said that last week he ordered “the baselining of all of our depot equipment — 71,000 pieces of equipment — starting with the first 800 critical items [for which] the production has quit or doesn’t work. We’re going to start his year with the baselining and then the following year we’ll put [a] modernization plan in place.”