According to the USAF: “U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron familiarize themselves with new nacelle enhancement modifications on a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft at Cannon Air Force Base, NM, January 7, 2022.
“The improvements are expected to increase aircraft availability and reduce required maintenance actions, leading to increased flight hours.
“The versatility of the CV-22 provides increased speed and range over other rotary-wing aircraft, allowing 20 SOS to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and personnel recovery missions deep in enemy territory.”
This process began with the awarding of a contract for a major nacelle redesign effort announced by NAVAIR on January 27, 2021:
Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Bell Boeing an $81 million contract to develop, design, and install pod modification kits and install conversion area harnesses on the CV-22 Osprey, the AFSOC (Air Force Special Operations Command) tiltrotor aircraft.
“This complex effort will improve both reliability and maintainability in one of the aircraft’s most critical areas,” said Col. Matthew Kelly, V-22 Joint Program Office (PMA-275) program manager. “This contract implements the most comprehensive maintainability improvement since the introduction of the CV-22 fleet 14 years ago; this will quickly pay readiness dividends for the fleet.
The V-22’s nacelles house the aircraft’s power and propulsion components and the conversion area includes complex wiring harnesses routed from each nacelle, supplying power to various elements of the aircraft. Together, the pods and harnesses are crucial and complex elements, responsible for giving the V-22 its unique ability to fly both vertically and horizontally.
“About 60% of maintenance hours are spent in the nacelles,” said Colonel Brian Clifford, PMA-275 CV-22 program manager. “By refining the design for maintainability in these areas, we will ultimately reduce repair time and improve readiness.”
The planned modifications were designed based on feedback from Air Force and Marine Corps maintainers to improve access to the nacelles.
“We wanted to make sure that the people who actually do the hard work, opening the pods, having to replace cables and troubleshoot, reap the benefits of this program,” said MSgt Bryan Sohl, CV-22 Division Superintendent.
Delivery and initial installations of the kit, covered by this contract, are expected to be completed in late 2021 at Bell’s Amarillo Assembly Center in Amarillo, Texas. The Marine Corps and Navy are also looking to incorporate the nacelle and wiring improvements to the MV-22 and CMV-22B variants.
“The team’s efforts to negotiate and award this contract were exemplary. the results of this contract will have positive and significant impacts on the AFSOC CV-22 fleet,” said Clifford.
Bell noted in a September 23, 2021 press release that the first CV-22s had arrived at their factory for nacelle modifications:
The first Air Force CV-22 Osprey designated for nacelle enhancement modifications arrived at Bell’s Amarillo Assembly Center on September 21. The aircraft is part of an ongoing process by Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, and Boeing (NYSE: BA) (together referred to as “Bell Boeing”) to further increase reliability and maintainability of the Osprey for the Department of Defense (DOD).
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded Bell Boeing an $81 million contract in December 2020 to complete nacelle upgrades on the CV-22 fleet. The contract covers the production of non-recurring items, the manufacture of nine kits and the installation of one kit. NAVAIR has an option period to cover fabrication and installation until 2025.
“We worked directly with our DOD partners, including the military and women who maintain these transformational aircraft, in developing targeted improvements within the nacelle to increase readiness rates while reducing sustainment costs,” said Kurt Fuller, V-22 and Bell program manager. vice-president. “Bell Boeing engineers have developed innovative solutions to meet fleet needs and improve V-22 maintainability using direct customer feedback.”
Around 60% of maintenance hours are spent in the nacelles. Bell Boeing has successfully designed more than 1,300 new V-22 SKUs to help improve nacelle reliability and maintainability while reducing repair time. The improvements are expected to increase aircraft availability and reduce maintenance time.
“Tiltrotors have always brought a new level of capability to aviation,” said Shane Openshaw, V-22 deputy director and Boeing vice president. “No other aircraft can accomplish the V-22’s unrivaled range, speed and agility, and these upgrades help ensure the Osprey remains a ready and capable aircraft for the DOD for decades to come.”
Bell Boeing is working closely with the US Air Force Special Operations Command and other V-22 customers to continue upgrades, reduce maintenance and increase reliability.
NAVAIR performed the first flight with nacelle enhancements on a Marine Corps MV-22 test aircraft on April 23, 2021. The MV-22 shares the same nacelle structure as the CV-22 and allowed the Bell Boeing team to receive feedback from NAVAIR and the fleet. maintainers before the first Air Force aircraft began modifications. Bell Boeing will perform CV modifications in Amarillo, TX, Fort Worth, TX, and is expected to complete upgrades to all CV-22 aircraft by 2025.
And in an April 14, 2021 post by Nick Adde published by NDIA, the upgrade paths for the Osprey were highlighted:
Now that the Osprey is securely installed as part of the inventory, work continues on current and future upgrades. Earlier this year, NAVAIR awarded an $81 million contract to develop and install modified pod kits and conversion harnesses for the CV-22. Located at the tip of each wing, the nacelles house the aircraft’s main power and propulsion components. They also contain the wiring harnesses that power the systems throughout the aircraft and serve the system that converts the Osprey from vertical to level flight and back.
“About 60 percent of maintenance hours are spent on nacelles,” Air Force Col. Brian Clifford, CV-22 program manager, said in a NAVAIR news release.
Refining the pod design should reduce the time spent on repairs and improve readiness, Clifford said. The work will take place at Bell’s facility in Amarillo, Texas. The Marine Corps and Navy are also considering the same upgrade.
A number of other major sustainment issues are currently on the table, Kelly said. Older Marine aircraft are undergoing a common configuration, readiness and modernization program, which would bring 2010 aircraft systems up to 2020 standards. The approximately 60 modifications include new mission computers, better radar weatherproof and scratch-resistant windshields, he said. The handful of aircraft that have completed the process have demonstrated increased readiness rates, as well as a decreased need for maintenance hours.