Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RAAF Emerging Challenges

Our next speaker at the 2011 P-3 IOSC is Group Capt. Peter Yates from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

For the RAAF, continuous overseas deployment is now "ops normal." RAAF crews have accumulated more than 20,000 flight hours in theater. The average aircraft fleet age is 13,500 AFHRS. Planned retirement date for the RAAF fleet is now 2019.

The Australian Defence Force's Strategic Reform Program moved a considerable amount of funds out of maintenance and into acquisitions. Forced maintenance to better live within its budgets and start doing things differently. This change has effects in acquisition and logistics support.

The focus for RAAF P-3 support is delivery of spares and services, obsolescences management, and capability upgrades -- including acoustics, ESM, crash data recorder, and advanced radar processor (which is now in test).

The RAAF has a number of areas it is looking at a number of maintenance areas, such as safety by inspection, repair asssessment, aging aircraft structure (including understanding and analyzing corrosion), aging wiring, and obsolescence in equipment.  Maintaining airworthiness is the critical item.

Group Captain Yates then discussed managing the fleet, working with various contractors, and the RAAF acting as the prime system integrator. He observed that platform pressures -- current and future --- need to be managed. He said that relationships are key.

After sorting out some issues, he noted that the RAAF's relationship with industry (Australian Aerospace and BAE Systems Australia) is much improved in 2011. This has led to better information exchange, which has led to better decision making.

He concluded with a discussion of the RAAF's sonobuoy stock recovery program. The RAAF is finding a number of issues concerning sonobuoy shelf life, particularly battery life.  The RAAF developed an alkaline battery life refurbishment procedure. This resulted in about 95% recovery of beyond-OEM-life sonobuoys. Most of these refurbished buoys are being used for training as new stock comes in.

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