Boeing Frontiers
October 2003
Volume 02, Issue 06
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Integrated Defense Systems

Whatever happened to PV01?

Whatever happened to PV01?

First Apache helicopter is reborn as a trainer aircraft


Above: The first Apache, PV01, has been transformed into maintenance trainer L7-09 for the U.S. Army. It's scheduled to leave Boeing Williams Gateway Facility in Mesa, Ariz., on Oct. 14 for a new life at the U.S. Army Training School at Ft. Eustis, Va.
On Sept. 30, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Mesa, Ariz., celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first AH-64A Apache helicopter rollout from the Hughes Helicopters assembly line in 1983. The rollout of Production Vehicle 01 (PV01) was an unforgettable event for employees.

McDonnell Douglas eventually delivered the first Apache multirole combat helicopter, the product of years of work, to the U.S. Army in January 1984. The sale of Hughes Helicopters was finalized the same month.

This month, the U.S. Army is about to take delivery of the same aircraft again—this time as an AH-64D Apache Longbow maintenance trainer to reside at the Army Training School in Fort Eustis, Va. The aircraft was transformed into trainer L7-09 to teach maintainers how to keep the U.S. Army Apache Longbow fleet ready to keep the peace. Apache Longbow is the advanced successor to the AH-64A, with greatly enhanced capabilities.

"The plan was to find a way to extend the life of the fuselage of PV01, which was suffering from fatigue after years of hard work," said Ken Nicholson, a quality assurance inspector and one of the many Mesa workers who have been at that facility since PV01 came off the assembly line.

Whatever happened to PV01?During its career, the aircraft accumulated more than 847 flight hours and 300 hours of on-the-ground testing with the engines running and blades turning.

In an ironic twist, Nicholson, who was assigned to the original PV01 maintenance crew, is today one of the inspectors on the aircraft in its new role as a maintenance trainer.

"I was excited about the idea of working on the aircraft again," he said. "I was with a handful of guys, the old crew, including Roy Heitcamp and Wayne Herron, who had worked on the aircraft with me in its early days." Heitcamp now is a Quality manager at Aerospace Support and also is involved in the maintenance trainer conversion.

Though officially owned by the U.S. Army, PV01 stayed at the Boeing Mesa plant as a test aircraft during its early days. It was used in Yuma, Ariz., for pilot weapons training and later used in tests to validate the Apache airframe, handling and flight load, and for engine evaluation.

During the 1990s, PV01 had its first flight with extended-range kits and with the General Electric T700-GE- 701C engine that is now standard in the AH-64D Apache.

When Apaches in the field had engine or aircraft issues, the Apache team used PV01 to determine the cause and find solutions.

PV01 will carry on that tradition of problem solving in its new life when it leaves Boeing's Williams Gateway Facility in Mesa, where the conversion work was performed, on Oct. 14.


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