Original Date: 08/10/1998
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Certification
Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), Lakehurst is responsible for certifying the installation and subsequent operational performance of all shipboard and shorebased Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE). ALRE certification is required of all new installations as well as any equipment which undergoes significant modification or repairs. In addition, the Type Commander, who is responsible for providing safe, reliable, and ready ships to the operational warfighting Fleet Commander, can also request a certification/recertification on equipment. In the past, major modifications or repairs were only done on ALRE during the time-phased, regular overhaul cycle (six- to eight-year intervals) of aircraft carriers. Today, the focus of aircraft maintenance has shifted to a condition-based maintenance methodology shorter but more frequent intervals.
A significant cost factor in certifying steam catapults is the deadload launch requirement. NAWC, Lakehurst tests the entire launch cycle by using a properly weighted deadload to replicate a fully-loaded aircraft. The deadloads, which float, are launched from the ship’s catapult system. After launch, deadloads are recovered in an extremely manpower-intensive procedure, which requires salvage personnel for locating the deadload; riggers for lifting; hook up and retrieval to the flight deck; and shipyard personnel to drain and reballast for the next test. The Coast Guard or local Harbor Police are used to establish and enforce a keep-out, safety zone during the test.
By strategically placing appropriate sensors on the primary catapult machinery and valves, NAWC, Lakehurst has developed a computer program which can simulate a deadload launch. Except for initial installation situations (used to establish baseline data), this method eliminates the deadload requirement for steam catapult certification. In addition, the computer simulation can monitor the performance of all ALRE, and establish a database for measuring degradation which enables NAWC, Lakehurst to predict failures and take appropriate preventive measures.
The savings are significant as the simulation precludes replacing or overhauling equipment or parts on a periodic basis. NAWC, Lakehurst can focus scarce resources on degraded parts or equipment via a condition based maintenance methodology. By eliminating the deadload launch requirement (except for initial installation situations), NAWC, Lakehurst achieved a 50% or better manpower reduction which translates into significant dollar savings.
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