USS KEARSARGE, At Sea --
During the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s 2013 deployment, the aircraft belonging to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced), have gone through hundreds of flight hours. Parts are constantly checked, maintained and if need be, replaced.
Most recently Marines assigned to VMM-266 (Rein.) replaced two drag pins on an MV-22B Osprey in the hangar bay of the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) while at sea. The drag pin is an important part of the aircraft, supporting a lot of the weight during flight. Cpl. Daniel McGuigan, an airframe mechanic assigned to VMM-266 (Rein.), from Scranton, Penn., said it needs to be inspected every 35 hours of flight.
“The drag pins provide 62% of the support for the nacelle while the Osprey is flying in helicopter mode,” said McGuigan. The nacelle is the housing unit on an aircraft, typically where the engine is secured and enclosed.
The new drag pins being put on were engineered to last longer: increasing their effectiveness while decreasing the possibility of them shifting.
“This drag pin is a new design, designed by our tech reps,” said Cpl. Nikolas Perez, a crew chief assigned to VMM-266 (Rein.), from Miami. “This will be our first aircraft that gets one of the beefier drag pins. If everything goes right it should last a lot longer.”
“The new plates are a lot thicker,” added McGuigan. “The old plate used 12 high locks to hold itself in, but the new plate only uses six high locks with six bolts.”
McGuigan said a high lock is a fastener that looks like a screw. When fully tightened down the tip of it snaps off so it cannot be easily removed without the proper tools as part of a fail-safe mechanism.
“We started three days ago and have about three or four days left,” said Perez. “Then we have to allot time to test the aircraft. The time we will complete this on ship is about the same time it would have taken back home. We have all everything we need here so we are making sure we do it right without taking any shortcuts.”
Perez said the three shops working on the project are all needed equally, and have to work well together to make sure everything runs smoothly. He said that without one shop working on and completing their tasks, the other shops wouldn’t be able to move forward with their operations.