U.S. Navy and Marine Corps leadership conducted a review board at Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Feb. 6, 2015, to determine the effectiveness of mitigation measures that were put in place after the January 2014 MH-53E mishap.
After an initial assessment by NAVAIR’s Heavy Lift Helicopters Program (PMA-261), the in-service support team indicated that additional measures were needed to ensure causal factors from the January 2014 mishap would be fully mitigated; NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. David Dunaway issued additional actions for both the CH-53E and MH-53E communities. These actions include:
Temporary flight restrictions whereby aircrews are prevented from cross transferring fuel in flight, aerial refueling, and refueling the MK-105 (the airborne mine countermeasures magnetic minesweeping system used by the MH-53E). On-deck pressure refueling is authorized in accordance with existing procedures and properly purged fuel lines. This step further mitigates the risk to aircraft and aircrew.
The corrective action directive released following the mishap, known as airframe bulletin 343 (AFB 343), will be updated to contain more explicit instructions, including photos.
NAVAIR’s fleet support team will immediately deploy ten teams comprised of wiring and fuel line experts to assist the fleet with implementing the updated bulletin, as well as to conduct training for squadron maintenance personnel.
The Navy places top priority on the safety of its aircrews. Correcting causal factors from this mishap – or any aircraft mishap – is paramount to the aviation community and a key element of operational readiness. Dunaway is committed to this effort, stating, “The safety of our aircrews and aircraft remains my number one priority, and I am confident that the steps described will yield the desired effects in our fleet. From my perspective, squadrons can start flying immediately as long as they follow these temporary restrictions.”
The updated AFB and flight restriction were released on Feb. 6. Additional actions included regular feedback on the clarity of the procedures as well as progress, and further review of the mitigation efforts outlined in AFB 343.
Source / Author: NAVAIR