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Army Aviation Careers
A Soldiers Life - Aviation Logistics School
The Army's fleet of helicopters is one of the most advanced in the world and must be constantly maintained and repaired by skilled aircraft mechanics. Attending AIT at Aviation Logistics School, you will be taught how to keep these technologically advanced helicopters in top operating condition and ready for action.
You will learn world-class aviation maintenance training, using unique aviation training devices. You will also gain hands-on working knowledge of aircraft, major assemblies, subassemblies and line-replaceable units.
Depending on your Army job, you will become specialized on one of the following Army helicopters:
Jobs Trained at this School
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Devloping Career Management Field (CMF) 15 Aviation Maintainers by Benjamin Morris
Aviation maintenance training for Initial Entry Training enlisted Soldiers is conducted either at the US Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama or the US Army Aviation Logistics School, Fort Eustis, Virginia. The aircraft maintenance career management field (CMF) 15 includes specialties such as aircraft mechanics and component repairers. The average course length for each specialty training is 15 weeks. Upon completing a course, Soldiers are awarded a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) which is the equivalent of a civilian job title. This specialty code identifies the Soldier as a specific type of repairer. For example, the MOS 15R specialty is an AH-64 (Apache) Helicopter Repairer.
One of the most important documents an Advanced Individual Training (AIT) graduate will receive is their Individual Training Record (ITR). All AIT Soldiers are given a copy of their ITR upon graduation which they hand carry to their Unit Commander, First Sergeant, or Platoon Sergeant. The information contained in the ITR identifies exactly which critical tasks were taught to the Soldier. With this information, the unit trainer is better able to develop an individual training plan for each Soldier.
The AIT graduates are apprentice-level aviation mechanics. According to Webster's Dictionary, an apprentice-level mechanic is defined as "One who is learning a trade - one who lacks experience." The apprentice-level Soldier has the basic skills and knowledge of aircraft maintenance; however, they must be supervised until they perform the maintenance correctly.
With Army aviation units located all over the world, Soldiers will be assigned where they will continue to train and improve their maintainer skills and at the same time gain valuable experience. Improved skills and experience gained at the unit are essential for Soldiers to assume duties as crew chiefs or become a "seasoned" mechanic. Experience cannot be taught in the school; therefore, it must be acquired by repeated hands-on involvement with the equipment the Soldier is working on.
Within the next two years, the Soldier will be eligible for promotions to Private First Class (E-3) and Specialist (E-4). With each promotion, the Soldier can expect an increase in pay along with an increase in responsibilities. Additionally, the Soldier will have gained the confidence and skills to move to the journeyman level.
A journeyman was originally one who worked for another for daily wages. He was distinguished from an apprentice, who was learning the trade, and a master artisan, who was in business for himself. At the apprentice level, the mechanic should have achieved a level of competence which will enable him to perform most maintenance tasks without supervision. Therefore, he can now be considered a journeyman mechanic.
Up to this point, the Soldier has been promoted without having to compete. Promotions to the rank of Sergeant (E-5) and higher are competitive and require completion of professional schools.
Those Soldiers recommended to the rank of Sergeant (E-5) and Staff Sergeant (E-6) must appear before a battalion promotion board. Selectees are then placed on a promotion standing list. Next, the Department of The Army will announce cut off scores for each specialty in the Army and those Soldiers having the requisite scores will be promoted. Those Soldiers promoted to Sergeant First Class (E-7) and higher are selected for promotion by a Department of The Army Selection Board.
The first professional course Soldiers attend is the Primary Leadership Development Course which focuses on developing basic leadership skills. These skills are essential for Soldiers transitioning to a leadership or supervisory role.
The next two courses are the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) and the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC).
The BNCOC consists of two phases with the first phase concentrating on common leader skills and the second phase on technical skills training. The technical training is oriented to technical inspections of aircraft systems and component repairs. The BNCOC students receive technical training peculiar to their specific MOS. With the exception of MOS 15N, Avionic Mechanic, all active Army aviation BNCOC students are trained at the US Army Aviation Logistics School, Fort Eustis, Virginia. The MOS 15N student receives BNCOC training at the US Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama.
The ANCOC students focus on receiving training on higher-level leadership skills associated with increased responsibilities. This training is critical to aviation Soldiers because they provide the aviation maintenance and leader training required to ensure the unit's mission is accomplished. All aviation ANCOC training, with the exception of MOS 15K, Aircraft Component Repair Supervisor, is trained at the US Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama. The MOS 15K is trained at the US Army Aviation Logistics School, Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Aviation Soldiers are well trained leaders who are prepared to face any challenge, any time. They pride themselves on being "Above the Best".
Benjamin Morris is a retired Sergeant Major with over 30 years of aviation maintenance experience.
convention used worldwide, helicopters are categorized by weight. Specifically,
“light”, “medium lift”, and “heavy lift” helicopters. Light helicopters are
those generally considered below 12,000 pounds maximum gross weight. “Medium
lift” are generally considered those from about 14,000 pounds to 45,000. There
is some disagreement in terminology regarding the use of “heavy lift.” Some
within the industry refer to helicopters above 50,000 pounds as “heavy lift”
while others reserve this term for the very largest helicopters, those above
80,000 pounds. Within Army aviation our largest helicopter is the 54,000 pound
CH-47D Chinook, most often referred to as a medium lift helicopter.
Military Helicopters. The cost of helicopters
both in terms of purchase price and operational cost, increases geometrically
with size. As a consequence of both cost and use, over 95% of the civil
helicopters in use worldwide are “light.” During the first two decades of
helicopter development, the military adopted commercial designs. The design
expertise for helicopters has remained with the five domestic firms that supply
military helicopters: Bell, Boeing, Kaman, McDonnell-Douglas, and Sikorsky.
Although Kaman supplies USN helicopters and some Army helicopter components
(notably, the AH-1 Cobra rotor blades), the Army does not have any Kaman
helicopters. The “big 4” US helicopter firms are the other four listed.
Military helicopters tend to be both larger and heavier, with many more
“systems” on board (e.g., sensors, weapons, communications) and more
“crashworthy” features. A small news or traffic helicopter (typically a Bell
Jet Ranger) costs from $700K to $1.2M. An Apache costs approximately $14M (1997
Military helicopters are designated by use. The designation “OH” refers to
observation helicopter. These are light helicopters used predominantly for
reconnaissance and courier requirements (e.g., OH-58C). General use helicopters
are designated as “utility” and have a “UH” prefix (e.g., UH-60L). “CH” refers
to cargo helicopters. They are designed to move cargo both internal and
external (“sling loads”). Attack helicopters have an “AH” prefix. We have two
in the Army, the AH-1 Cobra and the AH-64 Apache. And finally, the next
generation Comanche helicopters has an “RAH” prefix to designate it as a
reconnaissance and attack helicopter. With the exception of helicopters used
for medical evacuation, all have some armament (e.g., door guns, rocket pods).
The term “force modernization” or “force mod” is used to designate those
helicopter systems that are considered our front line aircraft. Serious budget
constraints of the past few years have forced Army aviation leaders to make
difficult choices and one of them has been to cease upgrades to many of the
older, Viet Nam era aircraft in the inventory. These 1960’s aircraft are often
referred to as the “non-force mod” helicopters.
listing. A listing of current Army helicopters
Apache force modernization system
Chinook force modernization system
Warrior force modernization system
Comanche force modernization system
UH-1H Huey (Iroquois)
Hawk force modernization system
The Army does operate approximately 450 airplanes. In the Army, the term
“fixed wing” aircraft is used to refer to airplanes (as opposed to “rotary wing”
a.k.a. helicopters). The fixed wing aircraft are employed in a variety of
support roles. With few exceptions these are non-combat civil aircraft,
generally maintained by contractors. This paragraph is the only reference in
this summary to the Army fixed wing fleet.
Categories. The major sub-categories of
helicopters are the 1) rotor system, gearboxes and drive train components; 2)
engine; 3) avionics; 4) “systems,” a.k.a. “Mission Equipment Package (MEP)”;
and, 5) airframe. The Viet Nam era helicopters generally have two bladed
(teetering) rotor systems while the newer aircraft have four or five rotor
blades (“fully articulated” rotor systems). The turboshaft engines used in
helicopters have commercial applications. In some aircraft, there are more
engines in civil use than in the Army fleet. Avionics for navigation,
communications, and flight instrumentation are similar or identical to those
used in civil aviation. There are however, some military unique avionics or
modifications (e.g., blue - green lighting compatible with night vision
goggles). As a general statement, the predominant developments over the past
two decades have been in the on-board “systems,” rather than in rotor systems,
engines, or airframes.
Considerations Helicopters are designed to carry a maximum given load
(maximum gross weight). This maximum is reduced in hot temperatures and high
altitude conditions. The difference between the maximum gross weight and the
empty weight is referred to a “usable load.” In some older aircraft, the usable
load is insufficient. Consequently designers are particularly weight
conscious. Since the early 1970’s military helicopters have also been designed
with “crashworthy” characteristics (e.g., impact bearing landing gear, stroking
seats, and a cabin frame that remains intact). The latest helicopter (Comanche)
is designed to minimize the radar cross section. The most significant design
feature of the past decade has been the incorporation of more systems into
Helicopters achieve lift and forward propulsion from the rotor system. Forward
(and sideward and rearward) flight is achieved by tilting the rotor system in
the desired direction of flight. The engines do not provide any forward
propulsion. Helicopters are most efficient in forward flight and in a hover
near the ground. They require the most power to achieve out-of-ground-effect
hover. As the helicopter increases forward speed, the rotor blades change their
pitch throughout the 360° rotation.
That is, while moving through the advancing (right) side, the blade takes a
lower bite (pitch) and a larger one on the retreating side. Consequently, the
helicopter’s top speed is limited by the ability of the rotor blade to pitch any
higher during one phase of the rotation. In the event of an engine failure the
helicopter descends in controlled flight through a maneuver called
“autorotation.” It is a maneuver requiring great pilot skills. Frequently the
aircraft is landed without damage and many pilots would prefer to have an engine
failure in a helicopter versus an airplane. Autorotations are less common as
the fleet has evolved to twin engine helicopters.
Critical Parts There are some 5,000 to 30,000 parts on an Army
helicopter. The great majority of these are not essential to flight. However,
there are 200 - 400 parts, whose failure results in a catastrophic crash (e.g.,
separation of a rotor blade). These parts are designated as “flight critical.”
In all aspects of design, testing, configuration control, and spares
procurement, “flight critical parts” receive significantly more attention than
others. If operators in the field report the failure, or impending failure of a
flight critical part, an immediate investigation is undertaken (led by the
AMRDEC and coordinated by the flight safety office). Frequently an Aviation
Safety Action Message (ASAM) is distributed which grounds the fleet pending a
complete investigation. These events, though infrequent, result in a cessation
of normal activity and a comprehensive focus on a remedy. “Flight safety part”
is synonymous with “flight critical part.”
Operations Army helicopters are based and
flown from forward combat areas, generally just to the rear of enemy artillery
range. Consequently, unit maintenance is conducted in austere conditions,
generally without artificial lighting. During combat operations, the helicopter
may be flown eight to nine flight hours with maintenance being conducted for
another four to twelve hours. A large volume of spare parts must be delivered
to forward units on short notice. Most helicopters have a 2 to 2.5 hour fuel
duration. Between missions the aircraft refuel and rearm at Forward Arming &
Refuel Points (FARP). FARPs require significant logistics support in the way of
large volumes of fuel and ammunition resupply. Aircraft maintenance is also
conducted at these sites.
Maintenance and Spares Helicopters have a large number of moving parts, designed to minimal weight and high stress (fatigue) conditions. This, combined with a low tolerance for failure, results in high maintenance. Ratios of Maintenance Man Hours (MMH) to flight hours is often 3.5 to 4.5. That is, four hours of maintenance is conducted for every flight hour. Parts are replaced well before expected failure. Many parts are machined to very close tolerances. Metal used to manufacture parts have certifications regarding the source, treatments, and inspections. It is not unusual for spare parts to cost $5,000 to $15,000 with a few exceeding $50,000. Consequently, the current parts cost (in 1996) per flight hour of a Black Hawk is $1,602.70 ($351.54 consumable and $1,251.16 reparable). The Longbow Apache spares cost per flight hour is $3,851.18 ($444.20 consumable and $3,406.98 reparable).
Restructuring Army Aviation
What is it?
Army Aviation has converted the 11 active component combat aviation brigade (CABs)s and 8 reserve component CABs. We are fielding a brigade aviation element (BAE) in every brigade combat team (BCT) and a BAE(-) in each Stryker BCT and fires brigade, and are converting four aviation classification repair activity depot to the Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group. The Training and Doctrine Command has conducted a massive revision of all the aviation base field manuals, and has fully integrated Flight School XXI for all initial-entry rotary-wing students. All this was accomplished while the Army was flying over 1.8 million hours in support of combat operations in the Global War on Terror. The Army has been establishing Theater Aviation Commands and expanding Army Special Operations Aviation.
continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
We will also continue in our efforts to accomplish the following:
Why is this
important to the Army?