We get behind the controls of a Magni M16 gyroplane, chat with NASA engineers about the Mars Helicopter, look at Helinet’s firefighting Black Hawk & reflect on the legacy left by Universal Helicopters.
The U.S. Marines Corps has gotten its first battle worn MV-22 Osprey out of the Boeing-run shop that is overhauling, upgrading and standardizing the tiltrotors.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Osprey was in high demand and came rolling off the Bell-Boeing production lines in dozens of configurations, leading to difficulties maintaining the disparate versions of the same aircraft.
Enter the Common Configuration-Readiness and Modernization (CC-RAM) program, designed to consolidate the fleet from more than 77 configurations into fewer than 17 variants. Bell-Boeing is reducing the number of configurations by upgrading block “B” aircraft to the current block “C” configuration.
“Our first CC-RAM aircraft returning to Marine Corps Air Station New River was a key program benchmark,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col Matthew Kelly, program manager of the V-22 Joint Program Office, in a press release. “We are excited to see the capability, commonality and readiness improvements these CC-RAM aircraft bring to the fleet as part of the Marine Corps’ V-22 readiness program.”
As a block “B” configuration, this MV-22 was originally delivered to the Marine Corps in 2005. In 2018, the aircraft flew from Marine Corps Air Station New River to the Boeing Philadelphia facility for modernization.
Of 129 MV-22 Block B aircraft — built between five and 15 years ago — at least four have been inducted into CCRAM and will be brought up to a 2019 configuration through system replacements and overhaul at Boeing’s manufacturing facility outside Philadelphia. The work includes about 60 engineering change proposals to improve both reliability and capability.
In November 2019, the U.S. Navy awarded the Bell-Boeing team a $146 million contract to upgrade nine more MV-22 aircraft under the CC-RAM program, with work expected to be completed in March 2022.
“This milestone marks the beginning of an Osprey evolution,” said vice president of Boeing tiltrotor programs and director of the Bell Boeing V-22 program, Kristin Houston, in a press release. “Through a shared focus on safety and quality, the Bell Boeing team is delivering modernized MV-22 aircraft that are ready to serve our dedicated servicemen and women who rely on this essential aviation resource.”
Improvements are aimed at reducing how much time maintainers spend caring for the nacelles, the rotating pieces at the end of the wings that house the engine, gearbox and rotor system, because they take up a disproportionate amount of maintenance compared to the rest of the aircraft.
The next CC-RAM delivery is expected in early 2020.
Aslo on Dec. 10, reports emerged that Bell had completed its work on the first CMV-22 carrier onboard delivery variant of the Osprey. Photos emerged online on Dec. 11 of the aircraft parked outside at Bell’s Amarillo, Texas, facility. The Navy will replace the C-2 Greyhound with the CMV-22 to perform the COD mission ferrying supplies, weapons, parts and personnel from shore to aircraft carriers at sea.