Group learning about V-22 Osprey repairs

A group of Japanese mechanics and engineers hoping to learn the tricks of the trade of V-22 maintenance are shadowing workers at Cherry Point’s Fleet Readiness Center East.

Fuji Heavy Industries will be standing up depot-level phased maintenance interval work for the Marine Corps in support of Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific beginning in January.

To prepare for that work, eight Japanese workers are looking over the shoulders of and taking advice from Fleet Readiness Center East workers at Cherry Point.

“We are the resident experts. We have the engineering and the logistics community here for the V-22 program so if you want to learn about doing maintenance on the V-22, this is the place you want to come,” said John Whitehurst, V-22 integrated product team leader at FRC East.

The U.S. government contracted Fuji to do the work for aircraft in the Far East in Korea, Malaysia and Japan at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa.

“You can study the books and you can study the blueprints and that’s all fine and good, but when it comes time to start working on it, the folks that are working on it have got little tricks that they have created,” said Whitehurst. “We learn new things to do every day. It can be as simple as a cart that holds tape or a cart that holds masking paper, or something that we built here in our machine shop or our carpentry shop to hold a component while you are trying to install it. Those are the things that the contractors are really taking note of for when they start doing this maintenance.”

Takefumi Hosono, of Fuji, said four mechanics, two engineers and one quality assurance worker joined him during the last week for a visit to FRC East. Three Japanese workers will be doing a workshop this week on composite repairs.

“Our work will start in January next year and we are trying to get what the mechanics at Cherry Point are doing so that we can do the same thing,” said Hosono. “The U.S. government has a nice document that rolls out everything that we need to do in order, but some of the things are not listed there and we are trying to get that know-how from the actual people who are working on the aircraft. In order to keep the quality and safety, we wanted to learn what the people here are doing.”

Hosono, lead coordinator, is serving as an interpreter to bridge the language barrier between the Japanese and the American workers.

“They are very kind and they are very supportive on the flight line and in the shop,” Hosono said. “If you ask some question, they will answer or if they don’t have the right answer right away they will give us the answer the next day so we get a lot of information from them learning about the aircraft.

“Everyone is excited to work on the Osprey and this is our company’s first time to work for the U.S. government so that is another excitement that we have, working with a complex aircraft and working with the U.S. government. We are trying to make the program successful and we get a lot of help from the workers.”

The Fuji facility can hold a maximum of four aircraft, but the crew will work on one aircraft at a time initially.

J.B Hall, of Havelock, who is sheet metal work leader, is spending about two weeks helping the Japanese contingency.

“I think they are going to take a lot of knowledge from here when they leave and go back, so I think they will do pretty well with it,” said Hall.

Hosono said he was impressed with the size of the base.

“I feel the history looking at the buildings,” said Hosono. “This building with the red brick, there is a sign that said Naval Air something. It’s not old in a bad way, but I feel the history in here.”

Cherry Point was under construction in 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor at the outset of the United States’ participation in World War II. The countries are now long-time allies.

“I saw this history channel in the cafeteria about World War II. It was a little awkward, but still, right now we have an alliance, right,” said Hosono. “This facility is a really great facility I think. We were told that this was the first PMI line for the V-22, so the people that are here are the most experienced V-22 mechanics out there, so we just wanted to learn as many things as possible from the people who have worked longer than anybody else on this aircraft.”