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Friday, January 1, 2010

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What’s Stifling Innovation?

On page 52 of the November 2009 issue of Rotor & Wing, Giovanni de Briganti asks, “Are Legacy Designs Stifling Innovation?” I would respond that there are, in fact, two stifling forces at work.

First, there are the financial realities that drive OEMs and others to develop relatively short-term, cost-effective solutions. These are essentially band-aid fixes that are not doing much to advance the state of the art, but they serve the immediate purpose. Our own industry has created this monster with bloated technology development programs and, frankly, the customer has had enough. What’s more, for an industry that claims to value innovation, there is little truly new to be found. Notable exceptions include game changers like Pegasus, an exciting pressure jet technology helicopter, and, of course, X2 Technology. Yet for every new idea, the naysayers can’t wait to weigh in. If I had a dollar for every time I was told that X2… or Pegasus… or even NOTAR can’t ever work, I’d be living large.

So, “Are Legacy Designs Stifling Innovation?” Not necessarily. But we are.

Kyle Kathleen Davis

President

BDN Aerospace Marketing

UH-1 Alive and Well at Ft. Hood

The 21st Cavalry Brigade is an active duty, Forces Command (FORSCOM) unit charged with conducting the Unit Fielding and Training Program (UFTP) for all AH-64A battalions as they convert to the AH-64D Longbow. We also conduct collective training for foreign militaries that employ the AH-64D Longbow, including the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Singapore, with possibilities of addition nations participating in the future. The 21st Cavalry Brigade utilizes its four UH-1s (aka Team Huey) to perform a litany of missions.

To begin, Team Huey flew 645 hours in fiscal year 2009, with the vast majority being flown in a nine-month period between January and September. This would average 12.4 hours a week for 52 weeks using an average of three aircraft throughout the year. If you just consider the “working days” of the year, we averaged flying more than three hours a day for the entire year.

Most of the Team Huey flights flown in 2009 were in support of several AH-64D Apache Longbow units that received training from the 21st Cavalry Brigade. The list of units trained is as diversified as the 21st Cavalry Brigade itself.

When in support of training Longbow units, Team Huey flies in day and night/night vision goggle conditions conducting simulated air assault missions, medical evacuation missions, downed aircraft recovery missions as well as a troop and logistical transport or VIP transport.

It is an important timing and reaction consideration for the training Apache pilots who must balance their primary attack/reconnaissance mission with the escort and protection of lift assets represented by the Huey.

When Team Huey is not involved with training Apache pilots, it is gainfully employed with unit and installation support missions. Team Huey flies VIP, equipment and personnel transport and are often in attendance at air shows and static displays throughout Texas. This year in particular, a great number of flight hours were flown to fight forest fires, utilizing a “Bambi bucket” at Ft. Hood and in the surrounding communities.

The UH-1 Huey mission here in the 21st Cavalry Brigade is very diverse. The UH-1 remains on active duty in the U.S. Army and continues to prove to be a workhorse for the 21st Cavalry Brigade and is vital to the success of the Brigade and the units it trains.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions at all about our unique Apache Training Brigade or the Huey and how we employ it, please feel free to call me!

CW5 Jimmy A. Green

UH-1 Standardization Instructor Pilot

21st Cavalry Brigade

Ft. Hood, Texas

▶ R&W’s Question of the Month: Will the military helicopter market offset the slowdown seen in the commercial market? Let us know, and look for your and others’ responses in a future issue. 
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