Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Franklin A. Ruiz, a mechanic with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Unit, secures the exhaust access panel on an MV-22 “Osprey” here March 2. The squadron received its third Osprey Jan. 11 as it replaces a fleet of aging CH-46E “Sea Knight” helicopters.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Steven H. Posy

‘Grey Hawks’ maintainers’ gain skill during transition

5 Mar 2010 | Lance Cpl. Steven H. Posy

The MV-22 “Osprey’s” computerized avionics system is more advanced than that of its predecessor, the CH-46E “Sea Knight,” and the mechanics at Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron161 are finding it easier to maintain.

VMM-161, Marine Aviation Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Unit, received its third MV-22 Osprey here Feb. 11 and its mechanics are sharpening their skills on it.

The Ospreys have larger panels than the Sea Knight which are easier to access and software upgrades which make it easy to maintain, explained Cpl. David Chavez, a mechanic at VMM-161.

“The aircraft has thousands of sensors and tells you what is wrong with it,” said Sgt. Darin M. Levesque, a crew chief with VMM-161. “It is also easier for the pilots and crew to check for temperatures and pressures in the cockpit. We are all very excited to have them here.”

The pilots and crew of VMM-161 are part of a transition which requires them to train at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., for six months to receive on the job training with experienced pilots and crew who have deployed with the Osprey.

“The transition was great, and faster than I thought it would be,” said Levesque. “VMM-161 has great leadership, great history and excellent unit cohesion. We were able to learn quickly by training with the experienced guys.”

More pilots and crewmembers are in training and will join the squadron throughout the year, explained Chavez.

The aircraft will enhance and improve operations of the squadron as they deliver twice the range of a CH-46E and burn half the amount of fuel.

“I feel privileged to work here since we are the first West Coast-based squadron to have the Osprey,” said Chavez. “The MV-22 is an upgrade from the CH-46.”

VMM-161 will continue to receive new aircraft and will have a full fleet of 12 by next year. The members of the squadron are excited and well prepared for the future.