SPECIAL UNIT PROFILE

US Army Priority Air Transport marks first 20 years of service

USAPAT operates Gulfstream G550, 2 GVs, 1 GIV, 1 GIII and 3 Citation Encores for high-level executive transport.


(Front L-R) Operations OIC CW5 Steve Serchuk and NCOIC SFC Mike LaVergne with other members of the Flight Ops Cell.

Only one of the original 2 C20Es (GIII) remains with USAPAT-87-0140 "Lexington," now allocated to RMS. Sister ship 87-0139 "Yorktown" was transferred to the US Air Force in Oct 2005.

A word here about the naming tradition. This was the idea of then (1988) Secretary of the Army John O Marsh. Every USAPAT Gulfstream bears the name of a historic battle or engagement, and in the case of the C37s each aircraft carries a soil sample from the actual location as part of a small display in the cabin.

The C37 serials are significant as well, tying in with the dates of each battle-thus, for example, "Valley Forge" is 1778.

Maintenance

USAPAT's maintenance officer is CW5 Randy Reynolds. He has served in the Army for 24 years and has been with USAPAT for the past 4 years.

His 9000 hrs TT include 7500 hrs fixed-wing. Reporting to Reynolds at ADW are 4 officers, 2 NCOs and 6 flight engineers. Personnel at the outlying detachments also report to him. Gulfstream is contractor logistics support (CLS) on the C37s, while DynCorp maintains the UC35s and M7 Aerospace handles work on the C20s.

As maintenance officer, Reynolds is responsible for financial oversight of all 3 contractors. Two master sergeants-Larry Depriest and Nick Keefe-oversee budget lines, updates and day-to-day operations.

They also supervise contractors and depot visits. At ADW both Gulfstream and DynCorp teams operate 2 basic shifts, but are available 24/7 as needed, subject to 1-hr recall. Both teams consist of civilian A&Ps reporting to lead mechanics.

USAPAT performs all scheduled and nonscheduled non-depot-level maintenance work at ADW, explains Reynolds. Depot-level maintenance tasks on the Gulfstreams-such as engine changes, NDIs and communications systems work-are carried out at the OEM's facilities at LBA and SAV.

The manufacturer also performs updating work when necessary-for example, a unit C20 is currently undergoing modernization at Gulfstream DAL and will leave there with dual Universal Avionics 890R packages and SVS installed.

Reynolds expects the unit's EVS-equipped C37As (GVs) to undergo a Honeywell SDU885 flightdeck upgrade replacing the CRTs with LCD panels per Gulfstream Aircraft Service Change (ASC) 183-in 3Q2009. On the C37B the goal is to attain Cert D followed by Cert F.

Non-depot level maintenance is undertaken at ADW by civilian A&P technicians working for DynCorp and Gulfstream.

There are no plans to upgrade the dual Universal UNS1Esp FMS boxes on the UC35Bs. A&P Wilfred Leeling has been with DynCorp for 9 years. Formerly in Navy aviation, he carries out airframe and engine inspections on the unit's 3 UC35s, as well as ordering and receiving parts.

Leeling and 3 other DynCorp A&Ps report to Site Lead Phil Rogers. All have at least 5 years' experience at ADW. DynCorp carries out the majority of maintenance work on the UC35s, including avionics, engines, wheels, brakes, hydraulics and sheet metal work.

HSIs and compressor work on the UC35s' Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535A engines go to Cessna's ICT Citation Service Center. Leeling describes Cessna service overall as "pretty decent." Army C37 CLS Program Site Mgr Alan Stokely has 21 years' experience in aviation maintenance.

A 17-year Gulfstream veteran, Stokely worked at SAV from Aug 1992 onwards and transferred to ADW in Sep 1999 as USAPAT was due to receive its first C37A. Reporting to him are 12 Gulfstream A&Ps with security clearances and an average 4 years' experience at ADW.

Stokely's team has achieved 14,340 hrs (accident-free) to date on the 3 ADW-based Gulfstreams. FAA has awarded the Gulfstream maintenance team 7 consecutive Diamond awards, and Stokely is proud of them.

"The guys all take great pride in supporting our customers," he beams. He is far from alone. "We have a great maintenance team and they do an excellent job," says Griffin. "This is the best maintenance program I've seen in 21 years."

With its wealth of experience and expertise, USAPAT has the ideal mix of people and aircraft to enable it to carry out its mission both visibly and efficiently, without fuss or failure. "Each mission is an orchestrated dance," Griffin reflects. The main concern is "to exceed the expectations of the customer."

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