How many times have you walked out to your aircraft, whether fixed or rotary wing, on the flight deck or the flight line of some air station, and not even considered the efforts that went into providing you an “up-bird” ready to fly?
While I am proud to work at Bell Textron Inc., I fondly recall my days flying in the Sikorsky H-60 or Boeing T-45.
Every take-off during my career was followed by a safe landing, and I am grateful to those OEMs.
But beyond maybe understanding the GE supplied the engines on the H-60, a fact drilled into your head from Day three or four at the Fleet Replacement Squadron Ground School, I too am guilty of never really understanding, or taking the time to understand, what goes into the making of that aircraft.
As an H-60 squadron commander or base commander who needed up T-45s, I recall even then only lamenting about not caring about such details and only caring about the OEM who built the machine and thinking, “Why can’t they fix my problems?”
Fast forward to my time at Bell.
Being part of the Bell Boeing team, which produces and sustains the V-22 for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Government of Japan, and now our Navy, I have a much more profound understanding and appreciation of what exactly it means to provide the warfighter with the tools they need to be successful.
It goes much further beyond the Bell Boing Team, who build the aircraft, and Rolls Royce, who provides the engine. The V-22 partnership spans a group of dedicated professionals encompassing over 27,000 employees across 500 suppliers from nearly every state.
Those OEMs and suppliers, big and small, provide not only the aircraft to the warfighter but the tens of thousands of individual pieces and parts that are critical to the production and sustainment of this aircraft.
Toss in the thousands of operators, maintainers, and dedicated personnel infrastructure support, both uniformed and civilian alike from various commands across the Department of Defense, and you have quite an organization whose sole purpose is to support every sortie.
In the case of the V-22 Osprey, Bell Boeing leads a consortium of several dozen key suppliers known as “Team Osprey.”
This team meets regularly as an organization and with our government and military partners to ensure we are providing the warfighter with the best possible product. The sharing of ideas and the opportunity to receive timely and honest feedback from the “customer,” aka the men and women who maintain and fly the Osprey, is critical to ensuring we will be able to fly the Osprey well into the middle of this century.
As a junior officer and even a senior one, I was skeptical about these organizations.
Surely, this was just another golf outing on the coast.
But having the privilege of being the Bell Boeing lead for Team Osprey and planning several of these events, I assure you the face-to-face collaboration and exchanging of ideas is critical to this, and any platform’s current operations and future.
Team Osprey recently completed our annual meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is close to several CV-22 units.
According to Bell Senior Vice President and V-22 Program Director Kurt Fuller, “Organizations such as Team Osprey and events such as our recent Working Group meeting in Santa Fe, provide all of us the opportunity to better understand how industry and our government partners can better support the Osprey today and into the future.”
Besides hearing from the customer and getting to have one-on-ones and small group meetings between industry and government, we had the opportunity to hear from the Air Force mission commander who led a daring personnel recovery mission in Africa. Listening to him recount the details of the mission and how the Osprey was and is the only aircraft that could complete it was special.
Even more so was watching how many of our suppliers reacted to his words, perhaps never actually getting that firsthand feedback from someone whose life depended on their efforts. Hearing his words at our banquet and spending the next morning speaking with a Navy crew who flies the CMV-22 made a lasting impression on many in attendance.
Next time you walk out to the flight line and strap in, maybe for a moment consider the sometimes-herculean effort it took to get you that aircraft and get it airborne. Bell and Boeing’s name may be “on the pedals,” but we are only the face of the aircraft built and supported by tens of thousands of dedicated professionals whose life work is about more than just picking up a paycheck.
Christopher Misner, Bell Senior Manager, Military Sales and Strategy
“The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”