By Clifford Davis
Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs
In a few years, every Navy and Marine Corps pilot to earn their wings will have flown an aircraft touched by the capable hands of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) artisans.
The Chief of Naval Air Training, known as CNATRA, named FRCSE as the primary source of repair for the T-6 Texan II trainer aircraft in November.
"The T-6 is the primary trainer aircraft for CNATRA," said Daniel Simon, FRCSE's deputy integrated product team lead for the trainer aircraft program. "This is the first plane that a naval aviator will fly."
Regardless of whether pilots go on to fly helicopters, multi-engine planes or jet fighters, they all begin with the T-6. That means, not only will the massive new workload produce jobs, it's also crucial for national defense.
"This is the first thing they're going to fly and train on," Simon said. "So making sure that this fleet is up and running is basically laying the foundation for all the future aviators in the Navy and Marine Corps."
FRCSE will be conducting what is known as aircraft condition inspections (ACI) on the aircraft. During the ACI, engineers and artisans determine what needs to be fixed on the aircraft and then carry out the necessary repairs.
But the ramp-up in workload won't happen all at once. In fiscal years 2018 and 2019, for example, the facility will perform six, then 12 ACIs.
However, by 2020, that number jumps to 33. By 2021, FRCSE will be inducting 57 of the aircraft per year.
If you talk to the men and women of the new T-6 line at FRCSE, they don't have any doubt they can handle the increased responsibility.
"I think we have a good plan in place to ramp up," T-6 Overhaul and Repair Supervisor Todd Theobalt said. "The people we have now have the experience.
"They also have the expertise to start training the new hires and people we're going to bring over from within the plant to transition into this program."
With the workforce of the facility's trainer team about to double, adding everything from engineers to sheet metal mechanics to production controllers, training will be important.
However, to take in 57 aircraft per year requires hangar space; something the phasing out of the venerable P-3C Orion is opening up.
"The infrastructure needs for the aircraft line seem to be lining up perfectly with the P-3 sundown," Simon said. "So trainers have now started moving into that hangar."
Though the amount of work will be new to the FRCSE trainers team, trainer work is not. In fact, Simon said, it's part of the reason why they were tapped for the work in the first place.
"The reason why we got this workload is because of the guys on the floor," Simon said. "The work they did with the T-44 was tremendous.
"The artisans on the floor are the rock of this program. As long as we get them the parts they need and the logistical elements, they'll produce these aircraft."
Fleet Readiness Center Southeast named primary source for T-6 Texan II repair
By Clifford Davis