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Jun 16, 2021

NAVAIR’s national LGBT Pride Month event celebrates living authentically

Part of LGBT Pride Month each June is having pride in your true self.

That’s the message Risha Grant, author, television host, international speaker and a former Division 1 women’s basketball player, imparted to NAVAIR employees at the national NAVAIR Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month event June 10.

“I haven’t always celebrated Pride [Month] or had pride,” Grant, a self-described bisexual woman, said. “It took me awhile to get to that point.”

Grant said she embarked on a four-step process to “own her authenticity,” which took her more than 30 years and down several different paths.

“I am diversity personified, but so are all you,” she told employees. “We are all diverse. I made my diversity my superpower by owning everything about me.”

First, she redefined “normal,” which meant being true to her sexuality and eschewing some of the lessons she learned growing up.  

“I was told to be normal, but that word means common or standard, and who wants to be that? It isn’t inclusive of everyone. Honor your uniqueness.”

Second, she released the expectations people had of her.

“I had to radically accept myself,” she said. “I had to love myself, and not judge myself.” She told employees to ask themselves, “Are you living in love or living in fear? Be intentional, and ask yourself, ‘Am I being real? Am I living my real life?’” she advised. “Live your life on your terms.”

Third, she embraced inclusion.

“Allow another human being to be who they are for the space they’re taking up in this world,” she said. “Be open-minded, say hello with a smile and include everyone. We owe this world to leave it better than we found it for the people who are coming behind us.”

Grant has coined the term “bias-synapse” to describe how biases can unconsciously color how you view the world and urged employees to let go of the “BS.”

“What is it you can do to become an ally and help someone feel a part of the team?” she asked. “Am I experiencing the world through my ‘bias-sphere’ or how it actually is?”  

Last, she realized her voice and used it to start speaking to shift hearts and minds as an award-winning diversity and inclusion expert.

“Sometimes, you can plant a seed that may not bear fruit for many, many years,” she said, but encouraged employees to keep learning, growing and working to understand their biases and live their truth.

LGBT Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village. This year’s theme was “Pride in All Who Serve.”


Jun 14, 2021

Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific increases maintenance capacity to accelerate Naval aviation readiness

Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRC WESTPAC) and contracted industrial partner, NIPPI Corporation, are working with newly increased capacity to help the U.S. Navy meet their aviation readiness and sustainment goals for the MH-60 Seahawk aircraft.

For the first time in the 70 partnership between FRC WESTPAC and NIPPI Corporation, eight H-60 aircraft fill NIPPI’s aviation facility located just outside Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. The newfound capacity is attributed to a recently awarded $56.1M, multi-year contract that allows for additional inductions to help meet the readiness requirements of the Naval Aviation Enterprise. 

“Our mission here at FRC WESTPAC is to perform the required depot-level maintenance and return safe, mission-ready aircraft to the Fleet as quickly as possible. If there are aircraft in need of repair and we have the capacity to induct it, then we are happy to take on that workload. We pride ourselves on accelerating readiness for the Naval Aviation Enterprise to ensure they’re ready for whatever the mission requires. And that goes for any Type/Model/Series that we currently support, not just H-60 aircraft,” said FRC WESTPAC Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Kevin M. Ryan.

Last fiscal year, FRC WESTPAC performed Planned Maintenance Intervals (PMI) on 10 MH-60 aircraft, and this year are on track to service 14, a 40% increase year over year. In addition to scheduled maintenance work increase, the command also performs in-service repair (ISR) work on MH-60 aircraft and has completed 59 repairs so far this fiscal year.   

“I am thrilled with the increased performance that we are seeing at FRC WESTPAC and the feedback we are receiving from our U.S. Navy and Marine Corps customers deployed around the world. This success is due to the hard work and dedication of the FRC WESTPAC team and our industrial partners who help carry out the mission,” said Ryan.

By the end of fiscal year 2021, FRCWP is trending to complete PMI on 35 aircraft, overhaul 140 pieces of support equipment, and perform roughly 500 ISR jobs to support deployed U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces.

About Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific:

Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRC WESTPAC) is a global maintenance, repair, and overhaul solution dedicated to sustaining and optimizing the performance of U.S. military aviation assets. Utilizing a carefully-selected global network of foreign commercial industry partners, skilled federal artisans, and military specialists, FRC WESTPAC provides customers with scheduled and responsive, in-service maintenance and repair support wherever their missions take them. FRC WESTPAC is proud to support 15+ different models of aircraft including both the U.S. military’s newest and longest-serving aviation assets.

Jun 10, 2021

Navy receives first TH-73A helicopter

The first operational TH-73A helicopter was presented to the U.S. Navy June 10 during a ceremony at the AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation (Leonardo) plant in Philadelphia.

“The TH-73A will be instrumental in providing higher fidelity training to our future rotary-wing and tilt-rotor aviators for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard,” said Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces. “The cutting-edge technology and advanced avionics within the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) will enable a more seamless transition from the training aircraft to fleet aircraft, this in turn allows more focus on high end warfighting development and training.”

Eventually, the Navy will have 130 TH-73A helicopters total, with deliveries continuing through 2024. The new helicopters will meet the capability and capacity gaps of the aging TH-57 Sea Ranger training platform.

The TH-73As are fully Federal Aviation Administration certified prior to delivery, thus bringing a ready-made solution that will transition the TH-57 platforms out of service by 2025. The TH-57 is scheduled to begin sundown in fiscal year 2022.

“This delivery signifies a new era for Naval Aviation training,' said Rear Adm. Robert Westendorff, Chief of Naval Aviation Training. “By using current cockpit technologies and a new training curriculum, the TH-73A will improve pilot training and skills, and ensure rotary wing aviators are produced more efficiently at a higher quality and are ready to meet the fleet’s challenges.”

In addition to new helicopters, the full AHTS includes aircrew training services that provide availability on new simulators, a modernized curriculum and a new contractor logistics support contract for the maintenance and flight line support requirements of the new helicopter.

Using the first TH-73A, the team will train the cadre of instructor pilots and validate the modernized curriculum efforts, which is a requirement prior to training Student Naval Aviators with the new curriculum in the new system. The helicopters will ensure the Navy has capacity to train several hundred aviation students per year for Chief of Naval Aviation Training (CNATRA) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in Milton, Florida.

The AHTS accounts for the training needs of all of the Fleet Replacement Squadrons, thus students will be highly trained and fully capable of succeeding, regardless of which platform they select.

“The combined government and contractor team set new standards to meet much needed requirements in the fleet,” said Capt. Holly Shoger, Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program (PMA-273) program manager. “We are proud to develop and provide these new capabilities that will improve pilot training for many years to come.'

The aircraft is scheduled to arrive at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida, following final DOD inspections. A total of 32 TH-73As are scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Navy this calendar year and 130 total over the contract period. The new TH-73As will be housed in a temporary hangar at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, with construction to begin in 2023 on a new helicopter maintenance hangar.

The PMA-273 at Naval Air Systems Patuxent River, Maryland, oversees the AHTS and TH-73A.

Jun 10, 2021

Navy Maternity Flight Suits increase safety, meet urgent fleet need

In response to an urgent fleet need, the Aircrew Systems Program Office (PMA-202), with the assistance of an in-house tailor, recently began modifying and testing standard flight suits to create a prototype Maternity Flight Suit Uniform (MFSU), and has begun rolling them out to the fleet in a timeframe of less than four months from requirement to fielding.

The program office began alterations to standard flight suits by sewing in expandable panels that provide extra room in the abdomen area where pregnant aircrew need it the most.

Prior to the MFSU, pregnant aircrew had the choice of wearing maternity khaki uniforms or larger-sized flight suits throughout their pregnancies. Wearing larger flight suits resulted in longer hems and sleeves, and, if not tailored for length, these longer lengths presented safety hazards. Additionally, wearing increasingly larger flight suits without tailoring has the potential to present a less professional appearance.

The ultimate goal is to have each flight suit custom-tailored upon request. The program office is building up a “pool” of sizes that could be sent out, which the program office worked in tandem with drafting the ordering procedures and Aircrew Systems Advisory (ASA) naval message. If the program office receives a request for a size that is not in stock, the tailor can shift to work on that specific size in real time.

“We are proud to say the prototype MFSUs are available now,” said Scott Adley, Fleet Support team lead. “Even though they are custom orders, we are capable of filling orders in approximately three days. We released the ASA procedures for ordering to the Fleet, and once initial measurements are made at the command, the request chit is reviewed and then a custom flight suit is made and sent the command.”

The new MFSUs are fitted to aircrew height, preventing rolled up sleeves or cuffed/stuffed flight suit leg lengths associated with wearing larger conventional flight suits. Each MFSU has adjustable side panels made of the same material as the rest of the flight suit with hook adjusters, to provide not only more comfort but also improve safety and allow female aircrew a customizable fit. A single adjustable flight suit can expand across multiple trimesters depending on each pregnancy, saving pregnant aircrew the added expense associated with purchasing multiple flight suits as well as tailoring larger-sized flight suits historically purchased to accommodate the changing pregnant form.

“The team supporting the MFSU development and distribution deserves all the credit for being able to work the drafting and coordination of procedures for ordering and distribution in parallel with the design of the uniform. They continue to provide superior support to the warfighter every day,” said Capt. Tom Heck, PMA-202 program manager.

The Aircrew Systems program office includes all systems that directly support the aircrew and troops or passengers in the performance of their missions, and consist of the functional components, internal and external interfaces, and the environment to optimize human performance, protection and sustainment in aviation operations. The program office serves as the premiere organization for human performance optimization and enables the Navy and Marine Corps to be combat effective by providing and sustaining Aircrew Systems that work the first time, every time.

PMA-202 analyzes, develops, and executes innovative solutions that ensure warfighters are equipped with aircrew systems that are 'Ready to Fight Tonight,' through all phases of Naval Aviation, with the capability and capacity to 'Win the Future.'