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News | Feb. 11, 2021

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast returns first T-6 aircraft to the United States Air Force

By Ashley Lombardo

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) has completed its first aircraft condition inspection (ACI) on an Air Force T-6, marking another historic first for the depot in its long history of unwavering service to the nation's military forces.

FRCSE inducted the trainer aircraft on Aug. 26, 2020, and completed its ACI, strip and paint on Jan. 29, 2021 in just over five short months. 

To conduct work like an ACI, expertise from numerous industrial trades are required, including sheet metal mechanics, electricians, NDI specialists, machinists, mechanics, production controllers, quality assurance specialists, aircraft examiners and more.

The inspection targets the airframe's structural integrity and replaces or repairs areas and components identified by various specifications. In fact, this team of industry experts even hoist the fuselage off of the single-piece wing during the ACI event, a fundamental part of this inspection that is specific to the T-6 aircraft.  

"The Trainer production line only accounts for approximately 60 percent of the touch labor, which highlights the incredible collaboration that happens across the facility, to include processes, components, manufacturing, flight test and Trainers production line, said Clint Batten, FRCSE's Trainers Production Line Lead. “Each T-6 that flies out of FRCSE is truly a team effort, and it takes everyone tugging the rope together to make it happen."

Dozens of procedures provide for airframe and system inspection, deficiency identification and correction, preventive maintenance, modification and technical directive compliance. The process as a whole is expected to restore an aircraft to a condition that can be maintained at the operational level, ensuring a high level of availability for the duration of the aircraft's service life. 

"The key to success is collaboration," said FRCSE's Commanding Officer Col. Fred Schenk. "Whether that partnership exists from department to department within the depot, or from military branch to military branch. We are proud to uphold teamwork as one of our most fundamental principles at FRCSE. Providing this critical support to the Air Force further strengthens our nation's defenses and is central to our mission.”

FRCSE has four additional USAF T-6s in-house and is scheduled to induct seven more for ACI by the end of fiscal year 2021. The schedule for fiscal year 2022 is tentative. 

The T-6A, a single-engine turboprop aircraft, has played a crucial role in the Air Force’s pilot training after replacing the T-37 in early 2000s. Considering that the T-37 began its service life in 1956, by the late 80s, the Air Force began looking for a replacement that would provide updated avionics and instrumentation. The T-6A ushered in a new era in advanced pilot training.  

About Fleet Readiness Center Southeast

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) is Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, employing more than 5,000 civilian, military and contract workers. With annual revenue exceeding $1 billion, the organization serves as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers by maintaining the combat airpower for America's military forces.