MCAS Cherry Point News


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Ronald Carlton quizzes of his students during the final day of the 2-week F402 intermediate engine course, Dec. 16. The course is one of a handful that the Rolls-Royce Cherry Point detachment offers to Marines aboard Cherry Point.

Photo by Cpl. Samuel A. Nassso

Rolls-Royce increases knowledge, enhances safety, one Marine at a time

30 Dec 2010 | Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso

They go by the motto “Increasing knowledge, enhancing safety, one Marine at a time”

The Rolls-Royce Cherry Point detachment successfully graduated four more students from the 2-week F402 intermediate engine course this year, mounting to 235 Marines whom have successfully gained important knowledge about their respective military occupational specialty.

The mission for the detachment is to educate young Marines who work on the F402 engine, which are employed in AV-8B Harriers.

The three instructors within the detachment, John Fisher, Ron Carlton and James DeSousa have spent 2,049 hours training 235 Marines since the beginning of the year, averaging 20 Marines and 170 hours of training per month.

“The aim is to teach a course of technical education which satisfies an identified requirement to enhance the knowledge and skill levels for tradesmen newly employed on the F402,” said Fisher, who has been with Rolls-Royce for 28 years after spending 8 years in the U.S. Navy.

The course is taught in small classes, not exceeding five tradesmen and emphasizes recurring maintenance errors made as a result of inexperience. The course further concentrates on enhancing safety by explaining and expanding on causes of mishaps and accident prevention, added Fisher.

Along with the F402 Intermediate Engine Course, the instructors offer the following courses: Low Power Engine Running, High Power Engine Running, Hover Performance, Blade Inspections and blending, Engine Monitoring System, Human Factors in Aviation Maintenance, Post Maintenance Check Flight and Digital Engine Control System.

“What we do as plane captains is imperative to keep aircraft in the air and is vital for our mission in Afghanistan,” said Lance Cpl. Jeffrey M. Musselwhite, a plane captain with Marine Attack Squadron 223 and one of the four Marines who finished the course Dec. 16.

Musselwhite, accompanied by three Marines of the same trade, began the course with ambition to better themselves; to learn more about the engine and to absorb Rolls-Royce’s motto.

“I obviously wanted to find out more information about the aircraft,” Musselwhite said after he breezed through the final exam. “I learned about the internal components and the functioning of each component. I will definitely be keeping a closer look during my inspections and will be more apt to correct common mistakes before they develop.”

Any mechanical failure occurrence while in flight causes pilot distraction and detract from the aim of the mission, Fisher explained.

“It is vital that Marines know as much as possible about the aircraft and engine in order to prevent such failures and ensure safety margins are not compromised,” Fisher continued. “With a high performance, single engine, attack aircraft there is no room for error.”

The array of education Rolls-Royce offers to Cherry Point is an opportunity that Marines, especially Marines looking for qualifications and advancement, should capitalize on, Carlton added.

“The Marines come into the classroom the first day and we assess them with a simple test on the engine,” Carlton said. “By the end of the course they are asking great questions and seem to grasp the engine on a whole new level. Our job is to give these Marines the tools to be more aware and knowledgeable of what they are dealing with, which is very important.”

Rolls-Royce held a survey of powerline Marines some time ago and the survey addressed how Rolls-Royce could do better, Fisher explained. The message came back loud and clear; more training.

In 2006, the intermediate engine course began followed by a 3-week advanced engine course.

Later on, the advanced engine course broke down into separate classes to accommodate squadron requirements.

Now, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14, Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, VMA-223, VMA-231, and VMA-542, all send their young Marines to learn and grow as aviation mechanics.

Rolls-Royce constantly schedules courses and has a training schedule available for all interested Marines. For more information regarding classes and course information contact the Rolls-Royce office at phone number 447-1595.

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point