United States Coast Guard (USCG) Life Cycle Extension, Corrosion Reduction, and C4ISR Reliability
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Aviation Logistics Center (ALC) provides full lifecycle engineering and logistics support for all USCG aircraft. The USCG operates expensive aircraft within a highly corrosive and humid maritime environment, and these aircraft often need unplanned repairs during overhaul and routine maintenance as a result of corrosion, biological growth and contamination, and premature failure of advanced C4ISR equipment. The USCG Airworthiness Sustainment Branch strives to introduce new fleet management strategies to extend the life of its aging fleet of aircraft and to counteract such unplanned repairs.
In 2003, CDS2 Materials Scientists, Engineers, and Technicians advocated and supported a pilot project to test the effects of dehumidification on the aircraft corrosion life cycle. The success of this initial dehumidification (DH) project led to the current and ongoing implementation of DH units at multiple operational USCG air stations located in severe environments. Using portable closed-loop DH units that are sized for airframe types, the air stations are able to rapidly employ and remove the units on mission-ready aircraft--and data indicates that target Relative Humidity ranges (30-40%) can be achieved in less than one hour. Current trends at all USCG Air Stations using this equipment indicate a significant improvement in dispatch rates, improved reliability of avionic components, and reduced cabin corrosion. The emerging missions for USCG aircraft includes a significant increase in Homeland Security support; this increased role requires that all viable fleet management tools be explored for possible implementation. Dehumidification is a valuable method for assuring that USCG assets are safe, reliable, and can continue to perform their critical missions. Efforts are underway to expand the dehumidification program—upgrading all hangars with DH capability, and promoting policy changes such as the sheltering of all Coast Guard aviation assets.