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Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing

Army leaders visit McNair Aerospace Center, discuss Future Vertical Lift research

The McNair Aerospace Center welcomed leaders from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) and the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team (FVL-CFT) during a day-long visit to Columbia on June 22. Among the group were AMCOM Commander Maj. Gen. Todd Royar and FVL CFT Senior Sustainment Advisor Ms. Cindy Ponder.

Current work to support Future Vertical Lift at UofSC research sparked the visit as the McNair Center is developing of maintenance practices for a new fleet of the Army’s future vertical lift vehicles. McNair Center Director Abdel Bayoumi presented his group’s plans to collect past maintenance data, secure buy-in from the appropriate parties, and move forward to address the Army’s primary needs in an MSG-like framework: decreasing costs, increasing reliability, and reducing maintenance burden on soldiers. MSG-3, or Maintenance Steering Group 3, is an aviation industry standard practice of continually evaluating maintenance schedules for particular airframes and then adjusting those schedules to ensure they are not over- or under- maintained.

“I'm really excited about making sure that we're able to tie all the concepts together,” said Maj. Gen. Royar. “It's not just the digital thread; it's just not the MSG-3; It's not just any other component. It’s being able to put all those together and really get after the entire process.”

UofSC researchers expect to complete Phase 1 of the project this fall and Phase 2 in 2022. Though it will be a few more years before the full framework is complete, Maj. Gen. Royar says that he expects the partnership will “bear fruit for the Army.”

“I think the University of South Carolina has a wealth of experience and already know the basics to start with. They already know the military. They already know the culture. They already know what the Army does from our maintenance practices. And that by itself is a huge leap ahead,” he said. “That, combined with the technical expertise that the university brings, I think is going to make a difference.”

During the visit, the group also toured the McNair Center where they saw the research happening at the University of South Carolina and met the students who help make that research possible. Highlights of the tour included the center’s full-scale automated fiber placement machine, the metal 3D printing lab, unmanned aerial vehicle research lab, and the full-size Apache helicopter for research in predictive maintenance.

Cindy Ponder said, “Partnerships like this are key to support our goal to improve sustainment and maintenance processes for the enduring and future fleet. UofSC McNair Aerospace Center has provided over 20+ years of research support and we are very appreciative of the continued support to the Army.”

"We were proud to show off the wonderful research happening here in Columbia with the Army leaders from Huntsville, Alabama," said Bayoumi. "I'm very excited to advance our long-standing partnership and continue to provide research-based solutions that support our troops."

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