Used primarily for observation, utility, and direct fire support of ground troops, most recently deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Army’s Kiowa fleet of OH-58D Warrior Armed Scout Helicopters (ASHs) was experiencing failures and material cracking of aircraft structures due to poor maintenance alignment methods to the drive train mounting locations, the station 205 bulkhead, tail rotor drive shaft assemblies.
While these alignments are paramount to helicopter safety, functionality, and availability, they also posed a number of logistical challenges for the Army. Historically, these critical maintenance alignments could not occur in the field. Helicopters had to be flown to designated bases and depots. Compounding the situation was the tolerance values of the alignments. Maintenance personnel could not consistently achieve tolerance values within ± 0.005″ tolerances using existing templates, digital protractors, and gunner’s quadrants.
NCDMM and its partner, Hexagon Metrology, were awarded the effort to develop a portable alignment device for the Kiowa Warrior ASH fleet capable of field deployment and improving the accuracy and repeatability of alignment tolerances.
NCDMM and Hexagon developed the Kiowa Portable Alignment System (KPAS) kit. KPAS is a two-part system that enabled alignments to be completed in the field that achieved accuracy and repeatability values of ± 0.001″ — results well beyond threshold tolerances of ± 0.005″.