Robins plays vital role in returning Army's Black Hawks to the skies

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Robins not only maintains some of the world's premier Air Force weapon systems, but is also currently providing a hand to keep the Army's Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters flying for years to come.
If you weren't already aware, repairing aviation electronics can be a tedious task at times. But in the 566th Electronics Maintenance Squadron's Gyro Repair Shop, when the call comes, its technicians are up for any task.

The shop rose to the occasion during the summer of 2013 when its technical expertise was sought for a solution to the Black Hawk's mechanical gyroscope system.
A portion of the aircraft's fleet encountered an issue with its Dual Fiber Optic Gyros System, a navigation system that impacted the UH-60's ability to fly in instrument conditions.
As a result, a Safety of Flight memo was issued by U.S. Army Command to restrict certain A and L model Dual FOGS.

More than 1,000 helicopters were affected - almost half of the entire Black Hawk fleet - according to Col. Thomas Todd, Utility Helicopters project manager at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

One of the key components, the mechanical gyro system, is maintained and overhauled by the 566th EMXS - one of the shop's missions here for more than 30 years. It was decided that one of these gyros would be added back into each affected aircraft.

Up until June, the shop had been maintaining anywhere from four to 12 gyros per month.
Because of an almost overnight exceptional requirement for remanufactured mechanical gyros - nearly 1,000 of them - it would require close coordination between the Army and Air Force to put the units back into the supply system, and back onboard the Black Hawks as quickly as possible.

But first, additional personnel needed to be brought back and reinstated to ramp up the production line in Bldg. 158.

Parts would also need to be ordered and procured by the Defense Logistics Agency before a single unit could be produced.

DLA sought to acquire and ship needed items like the gyro's motor bearings, gimbal assembly and electrical components including the demodulator and inverter. An added benefit to the project was the availability of many repairable assets.

"With DLA, overhead support from our production controllers and planners, and our teams of technicians, all have played a vital role in being able to provide our customer what they need," said Ronnie Massengale, 566th EMXS Avionics and Instruments Flight director.

"With what we had to do to get parts, everything has gone very well," he said. "This shop knows what its mission is - to keep the warfighter flying."
Known as the TRU-2 turn rate gyro, its function is to relay electrical signals proportional to the rate of turn of the aircraft, due to its climb, dive, etc. The signals are provided to instruments in the cockpit which are then read by the pilot.

Technicians painstakingly disassemble the entire system, which includes a motor that must be taken apart, cleaned and repaired.

On average it takes 30 hours of labor from disassembly to final testing.
"Considering we started from almost scratch, our crews have done a great job," said Waymond Smith, Gyro Repair Shop supervisor.
As of March 4, 646 gyroscopes were produced by the 566th EMXS, with a goal of finishing by June.

According to Todd, the Black Hawk's project manager, the Robins effort has allowed the aircraft to return back to an unrestricted flight, allowing the Army to plan and execute both visual or instrument flights.

"The 566th EMXS Squadron in Warner Robins has provided outstanding support and assistance to the U.S. Army's Black Hawk fleet," said Todd. "These efforts have returned 800-plus aircraft to their fully mission-capable status."