Captain Aaron Rondeau, the P-3 department head for PMA-290 for the U.S. Navy, presented first in the operator presentations this morning.
The U.S. Navy made significant gains in the last year to improve their P-3 airframe sustainment efforts. Since the 2009 P-3 IOSC, the U.S. Navy has increased P-3 aircraft mission availability by 34%. Captain Rondeau said this was largely because of improvements made at organic and commercial depots.
Captain Rondeau discussed several P-3 mission systems upgrades. The upgrades will provide significant capability improvements, including Link-16 communications, new acoustic hardware and software, digital autopilot, GPS, navigation and air traffic management systems.
He said the goal is to install software on the P-3s that is common or similar to the P-8, allowing for risk reduction and ease of transition.
The U.S. Navy is also focused on airframe sustainment, including depot support, fatigue tracking, inventory projections and liaison with international operators.
The Navy monitors the airframe through a corrosion and fatigue life management program. Airframe sustainment is a continuous process, and Captain Rondeau says the Navy is doing a lot better to keep more airplanes in the fleet.
The Navy tracks hazards and safety of the aircraft. Fatigue life is highest risk, so they monitor each individual airframe with hours, flight frequency and landing data. This helps them predict data for next six months to determine when aircraft may need to be repaired.
Overall, Captain Rondeau said the goal is to return airplanes to fleet and keep P-3 mission systems relevant.