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U.S. Army Grounds Entire Fleet of Chinook Helicopters

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U.S. Army Grounds Entire Fleet of Chinook Helicopters

Old 30th Aug 2022, 22:56
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U.S. Army Grounds Entire Fleet of Chinook Helicopters

From the WSJ:
The U.S. Army has grounded its entire fleet of CH-47 Chinook helicopters due to a risk of engine fires, U.S. officials said.

Army officials are aware of a small number of engine fires with the helicopters, and the incidents didn’t result in any injuries or deaths, the U.S. officials said. One of the officials said the fires occurred in recent days.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command grounded the fleet of hundreds of helicopters “out of an abundance of caution,” but officials were looking at more than 70 aircraft that contained a part that is suspected to be connected to the problem, officials said.

The grounding of the Chinook helicopters, a battlefield workhorse since the 1960s, could pose logistical challenges for American soldiers, depending on how long the order lasts.

The grounding was targeted at certain Boeing Co.-made models with engines manufactured by Honeywell International Inc., people familiar with the matter said. The grounding took effect within about the last 24 hours, these people said. The Army has about 400 helicopters in its fleet, one of the U.S. officials said.
Source article
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Old 31st Aug 2022, 18:10
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Originally Posted by Carbon Bootprint View Post
From the WSJ:
Source article
Heard from a friend that it was "something, something, wrong O-rings" and that those are being replaced with the correct ones.
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Old 1st Sep 2022, 06:28
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From AVweb
The U.S. Army temporarily grounded its fleet of CH-47 Chinook helicopters on Tuesday citing a small number of engine fires caused by fuel leaks. The Army stated that the cause of the leaks has been identified and corrective measures are being implemented. A statement from Honeywell, the company that manufactures the Chinook’s T-55 engine, attributed the issue to “O-rings not meeting Honeywell design specifications [which] had been installed in some T55 engines during routine and scheduled maintenance at an Army Depot.”“It is believed these suspect O-Rings have been identified and isolated,” a Honeywell spokesperson said. “The U.S. Army and Honeywell were able to validate that none of the questionable O-rings originated or were part of any Honeywell production or Honeywell-overhauled engines. Joint U.S. Army and Honeywell engineers identified the issue and are now working with the Army to provide replacement O-rings on all affected Chinooks.”

It is not known how long the Army’s fleet of around 400 Chinooks will be grounded. It has been reported that around 70 helicopters were being inspected for the faulty part. No deaths or injuries were associated with the engine fires.
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Old 1st Sep 2022, 09:29
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
Heard from a friend that it was "something, something, wrong O-rings" and that those are being replaced with the correct ones.
Yes, defective, non-OEM O-rings resulting in fuel leaks. It's not clear whether those are ones fitted in the field (e.g. during an engine change) or during overhaul. Could be interesting trying to track usage ...
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Old 1st Sep 2022, 15:29
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If they are using appropriate traceability, tracking should be a doddle.

Of course, it could never happen under the MAA regime
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Old 1st Sep 2022, 15:41
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If it is in fact O-Rings....the fix will be quick.

In days of old....the Army Supply system used to provide the next higher level part should what you were requesting was out of stock....odd as it sounds....for some simple O-Rings for a fuel line connection on the Engine Fuel Control....that next higher part was the Fuel Control Unit itself.

That meant if the Unit Supply Officer was a cagey fellow....he would submit a series of Request Chits for those O-Rings until a Fuel Control Unit arrived....and arrived...and arrived.

That way the Aviation Tech Supply stockage for the unit had plenty of spares on hand.

That upset the system....and created a black market system of horse trading between Units that held overages in certain important items beyond what they were authorized to hold in their Unit Stores.

One unit might have cornered the market on Rotor Blades, or Combining Transmissions......etc....and some swapping took place which could achieve a quicker re-supply of a needed item than could be achieved through the proper Supply System procedures.

Upon being assigned the collateral duty of "Tech Supply Officer" I discovered the existence of said Black Market system by doing an Inventory of our unit holdings.....as I was going to be held for account for every item.....I demanded I put my right index finger's fingerprint. on the items.

The Tech Supply NCO got rather nervous as I started counting and nearly fainted when I discovered a real discrepancy between the Item Card showing how many we were authorized and how many serviceable components we had on hand and how many were on order and how many were Red Tagged and awaiting turn-in.

The good news for the NCO, me, and the unit was we had an overage.....not a shortage despite the card showing we had the right numbers on paper except for the actual number on hand exceeded authorized numbers on hand (the card showed on hand as being the authorized to have on hand number and the others not appearing in the count).

During periodic administrative inspections by higher authorities....finding places to stash the ill gotten gains temporarily got a bit interesting as we loaded up trucks and then had to craft Dispatch Cards for each truck showing them to be gone for logistical runs to explain their absence.

Army NCO's....properly nurtured and trained by their predecessors are the back bone of the Army. Officers just think they run the place....otherwise it would be a real shambles.

I gave my Tech Supply NCO a glowing report as we rarely had a delay for parts.

My "success" there got me reassigned to the Unit Motor Pool as the Motor Officer....and that was a whole different kettle of fish as the Motor Sergeant had been promoted well beyond his ability.....until he was offered some career guidance and encouragement....at which time he turned into a pretty good hand.

He even got a good report card ....finally....and earned......as my promise of his immediate transfer to combat Infantry unit with a loss of his stripes upon any discerned lack of enthusiasm, effort, response, or demeanor would be my greatest joy seemed to sink home with him as we were very much in a shooting war at that time all around us.

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Old 1st Sep 2022, 23:18
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Army NCO's....properly nurtured and trained by their predecessors are the back bone of the Army. Officers just think they run the place....otherwise it would be a real shambles.
Sasless, very apt post above. Too often, certain types in the Logistical/Spares system take the literal meaning of “Stores” too far. Stores are for storing apparently?

We put our aircraft and vehicles onto ships to head out to the beach with no water, lacking in stores. However, knowing our NCO’s, I asked our best Corporal (somewhat of a lovely and tough larrikan) to gather a team of lads to accompany our equipment on the sea journey, with a list of items. Lo and behold, our “stores” were liberated during the journey and our shortages somewhat rectified. Security can serve dual roles. Our excellent QM Sergeant ensured the “correct” paperwork was in place, should questions be asked. Thankfully it kicked off early and we were off flying providing support to our soldiers before too many questions were asked.
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Old 2nd Sep 2022, 01:50
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SAS, I guess then the, ahem, over stocking was standard practice, recall when our unit was up for inspection by head shed trucks were loaded with excess stock and drivers told not to return until such and such time. We did run out of o-rings though, had departed base cruising along as you do when the main transmission pressure dropped to zero, crew chief had done a required filter change that night but reused the o-ring as none were available, the Cambodian push had apparently caused shortages in the supply chain.
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Old 2nd Sep 2022, 02:07
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During Cambodia....we way overflew our ability to keep up maintenance wise....at one point we could only put up four of sixteen Chinooks with other held. on Recovery Standby.....and Firebucket Standby cancelled.

For a while the Bad Guys were breaking them for us quick as we could get another one up.

I maintain no Unit that could pass a CMMI Readiness Inspection could ever do well in Combat.

'When an aircraft went down....crashed...and was declared a total loss....it was simply amazing what was supposed to have been inside it and needed to be written off as combat losses....desks, typewriters, toolboxes, ground power units.....you name it.

The funny thing about Tool Boxes issued to the Engineers is the Tool Box itself was a reportable item....but the hand tools inside it were not.....they were disposable.

I built up a pretty nice collection of tools as I kept all the spanners and other tools I found during a Preflight Inspection following Engineering telling me the aircraft was "Ready to Go" on the Post Maintenance Test Flight and presented me the Logbook with all the proper sing-offs completed.
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Old 2nd Sep 2022, 03:02
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
If it is in fact O-Rings....the fix will be quick.

In days of old....the Army Supply system used to provide the next higher level part should what you were requesting was out of stock....odd as it sounds....for some simple O-Rings for a fuel line connection on the Engine Fuel Control....that next higher part was the Fuel Control Unit itself.

That meant if the Unit Supply Officer was a cagey fellow....he would submit a series of Request Chits for those O-Rings until a Fuel Control Unit arrived....and arrived...and arrived.

That way the Aviation Tech Supply stockage for the unit had plenty of spares on hand.

That upset the system....and created a black market system of horse trading between Units that held overages in certain important items beyond what they were authorized to hold in their Unit Stores.
SAS, reading that post I kept having visions of the Don Rickles character in "Kelly's Heros"
I've never been in the military (would have gone to college as Air Force ROTC Pilots Training, but failed the physical for questionable reasons), but I've long suspected that "Crapgame" was a lot closer to reality than most (non-military) people realized.

BTW, having been responsible for fuel control units for much of my career, for something so simple, O-rings are incredibly complex. Getting the ring material right is critical to proper O-ring performance.
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Old 2nd Sep 2022, 04:18
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My wife was an item manger for the Army and supported helicopters. Very creative ways they proposed she send them equipment they were not authorized to have or should have had on hand. They'd send in a requisition - she would look up the authorization - then call them. Surprise! They didn't know what they were authorized to have. I suspected fishing expeditions, particularly as the most coveted of equipment was maintained by a very supportive maker who would, when an item came for repair, add at no cost any cables that were missing, upgrade to the latest configuration, and send it back on a quick turnaround. Once she got a call from a base asking where the unit was. They claimed to have sent it directly (skipping the item manager who is to track them) and she called the company. They said they had never received it, but shipped a new unit on the sincere say-so of my wife who believed a broken unit had actually been shipped.

I worked to design items for pretty much every continent for the US and other militaries. Most were good about things, though the USMC kept damaging armored vehicles by tearing off the driver's hatch. Turns out that the driver ducking under a foot thick tree branch isn't enough to take the full momentum of an armored M113 by the hatch alone.

The only supply shenanigans were in the Middle East where TACOM complained that tow chains we supplied as kit for our trailers were getting broken and wanted them replaced for free. We responded by asking for the broken chains back to examine them. They were OK with that and it took all of 10 seconds to realize they were Chinese made imports to the Middle East and pointed that out. For some reason TACOM decided to pay for the new ones. I think the stateside people had been misled, but no one ever came forward with where the original US made and tested chains had gone. Sadly I bet the Taliban are using them on those Toyota trucks. I hope the trailers were disabled before the big drop to 2500. TACOM used them for everything. I think the main complaint was tires not handling hitting a foot high curb at 50 miles per hour without damage to the wheels.

We also did a radar system for the USAF, one in particular of several. And several times the USAF would look at the price we charged for repairs and decide they had all sorts of highly trained techs and why shouldn't they do the repairs instead. And then 6 months later their repair shop would be filled with un-repaired radar components and the USAF would then decide that getting them working was better than saving the money by literally, not fixing them. Their problem was that techs were only rotated through for 2 years or less, which meant that just when they learned to diagnose and fix - off they went to another assignment. Meanwhile we had to keep sloshing our techs around to keep them so they didn't leave before the USAF came back. And, of course, the USAF wanted the back-log cleared right this minute.
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Old 2nd Sep 2022, 06:54
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I maintain no Unit that could pass a CMMI Readiness Inspection could ever do well in Combat
Compatriots based at Vung Tau had a story of the resident Mohawk unit CO trying to flog off an aircraft, inspections were due and a flight line count found he had one more aircraft than entitled, Australians would have made a bid they said if there was a way to get it home. How does a system lose an aircraft of that calibre one wonders, of course, bar talk maybe, though they protested otherwise.
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Old 2nd Sep 2022, 12:54
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O-rings weren't procured as clearance items from Morton-Thiokol by any chance??
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Old 3rd Sep 2022, 03:08
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Megan,

There was a certain Chinook unit that had Seventeen Hooks....seems somehow the paperwork got mis-shuffled from on high and the turn in order never made it to the unit which kept the "lost" aircraft on paper to boost the Readiness statistics.

My unit was not authorized the cute wee Mule vehicle as was the 1st Air Cav but over time with a bit of Midnight Requistioning we had a nice fleet of them all painted yellow with black numbers noting they belonged to the 205th.

Flying Chinooks made larceny a gentleman's sport....if we needed it and saw it...we took it.

We once relieved the USAF of the responsibility of safe guarding a HUGE concrete mixer and two Pallets of Cement Powder.....It went from yellow to Olive Drab overnight.....we we wisely put on an Engineer Units ID Numbers.

Going to Saigon Kit for us when we did a three day R&R was a set of stencils, a can of spray paint, and a set of bolt cutters.....we hopped a ride down on the Battalion Courier Flight done daily by a Huey....and drove home in a Jeep.

It got so bad.....the Song Be Mess Hall Rifle Rack had an armed guard on it......due to helicopter crews being prone to forget they had not dropped theirs into the rack upon entering the Chow Hall.

There were good times to be had even in the worst of times.

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Old 3rd Sep 2022, 12:08
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Other CH-47 operators affected ?

..
Question
- does this problem read across to CH-47s operated by other nations ?

Yes, defective, non-OEM O-rings resulting in fuel leaks. It's not clear whether those are ones fitted in the field (e.g. during an engine change) or during overhaul. Could be interesting trying to track usage ...
If they are using appropriate traceability, tracking should be a doddle.
Of course, it could never happen under the MAA regime
O-rings are incredibly complex. Getting the ring material right is critical to proper O-ring performance.
Years ago - pre-internet - BA's 747 Classic Fleet started having occasional minor JT-9D engine instability in otherwise stable cruise. The usual cure of briefly putting on the engine anti-ice did not seem to work.

Eventually the problem was traced to fake o-rings in the engine fuel control unit. The fake o-rings were breaking up because they were made of the wrong material. However they were being purchased by BA, via their secure purchasing/suppliers list.

It turned out someone had hacked into the system and listed the fake brand as OK. Presumably someone thought faking o-rings was a money spinner.

tdracer may remember the case if it got back to Boeing. I never did learn if the problem was limited to BA or whether anyone within or without BA got done for it. Sounds as if an earlier scam may have resurrected itself.

'Couldn't happen here !'

To expand the question - Does this problem read across to any other aircraft type or engine, or to CH-47s operated by other nations ?

LFH
...




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