News | Oct. 3, 2022

Engine Air Starter Reaches Wholesale Material Availability for First Time in Four Years

By Tristan Pavlik, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support Public Affairs

Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support’s (NAVSUP WSS) H-53 Integrated Weapon Support Team (IWST) achieved a significant milestone by placing 39 “A” condition engine air starters in wholesale for the first time since 2018. As a result, the H-53 community is currently seeing record readiness rates, averaging 68 mission-capable aircraft.

The IWST reduced a backlog of 169 backorders, including 80 Inventory Priority Group 1 backorders, to zero and was further able to stock 39 ‘A’ condition assets in wholesale in March. ‘A’ condition means the material is new or repaired and ready for use by the fleet.

NAVSUP WSS worked with Eaton, the original equipment manufacturer, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) in order to support this effort.

The IWST began engaging Eaton in February 2019 regarding the re-establishment of manufacturing capabilities for this asset.

“Through the partnership, Eaton was able to facilitate a cold production line restart of spares to support the flight line as repairs were carcass constrained,” said Marc Diaz, NAVSUP WSS H-53 IWST deputy director.

This allowed for the generation of new spares, repairs and upgrades of other configurations.

This engine air starters received a high-level of attention and involved a monthly sync with leadership to discuss the initiative.

“At the high point of backorders, the commander of NAVSUP WSS was heavily involved. It is a true testament to the success of the team to have ‘A’ condition assets on the wholesale shelf today,” said Maj. Emilie Monaghan, NAVSUP WSS H-53 IWST director.

There were multiple challenges associated with the engine air starters which compounded repair efforts for a long time. There were multiple piece part inhibitors for repairs, configuration challenges, and test bench bottlenecks.

“The different configurations of the engine air starter are interchangeable, but the piece parts for the two styles are completely different,” Monaghan said.

This led to difficulties in fixing the different configurations at FRCE, leading NAVSUP WSS to seek out Eaton to stand up as not only a second repair source but also the source for difficult to procure piece parts.

“We are currently engaged with both Eaton and FRCE to align goals under a public private partnership, which Eaton would directly contract with FRCE for future support, thus eliminating competition on piece part support,” Diaz said.

Additionally, Eaton has been able to work with NAVAIR engineers on their new repair manuals. Thus, aligning both Eaton and FRCE’s repair procedures.

“The goal of this partnership is to improve piece part availability and continue to keep our naval forces mission ready,” said Ashley Steffney, NAVSUP WSS propulsion lead.

Written by Tristan Pavlik, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support Public Affairs