Going the distance

Learn how Boeing field service representatives go the distance — day and night — for the AH-64 Apache helicopter and those who fly it.

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to support customers around the world.

Apache production carries a sizable global footprint.

Joint venture Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited in India (factory photo) and supplier Korea Aerospace Industries build the fuselage and Boeing assembles and integrates all operating systems — engines, avionics, blades, rotors, weaponry — in Mesa, Arizona (silhouette photo).

Optimizing readiness of the Apache fleet around the globe is one of Boeing’s many missions, and it begins following Apache deliveries. Boeing field service representatives establish aftermarket relationships with customers. They assist mechanics and pilots with the rotorcraft while taking up residence far from home, often for two to five years.

AH-64 Apache

“We’re always on call,” said Stephen Berry, who advises the Republic of Korea Army on Apache maintenance matters in Icheon, Korea. “We’re here to support the product.”

“Who doesn’t have Apaches?” asked Randy Fulcher, a Boeing field service representative in Qatar. “Boeing sells the best weapons systems in the world.”

Lionel Adams, a performance-based logistics representative in Korea, deals with Apache parts that continuously rotate in and out Camp Humphreys, a U.S. Army base there.

Adams sends unserviceable parts to Boeing repair centers, and he has a global network, including the United States, Germany, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq, from which to draw support to ensure replacement parts are immediately available.

AH-64E Apache (right) and an AH-6 Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopter (left)

“This lateral support for the parts has been pretty successful in keeping the battalions up and running,” Adams said. “We’ve got a motto at Boeing that says, ‘Everyone communicates without fear.’ ”

PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of National Guard performs maneuvers with an AH-64E Apache (right) and an AH-6 Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopter (left) near Riyadh. Boeing assembles both aircraft in Mesa, Arizona.

When complex issues arise, Boeing’s two dozen Apache field service reps worldwide have a direct line to Mesa for consultation with engineering, maintenance and tooling experts.

Seven Boeing service engineers in Mesa answer calls from field service reps or directly from customers. Each has more than three decades of experience, access to all technical manuals and the ability to contact other experts if needed. They make themselves available at all hours.

Crew members on the Boeing flight line in Mesa, Arizona, are part of a team that prepares AH-64E Apache helicopters as company and customer pilots complete flight testing prior to delivery.

In Saudi Arabia, a National Guard base houses five dozen helicopters, the majority of which are Apaches. Three large maintenance hangars and a wide runway emerge south of Riyadh. Multiple AH-64E rotorcraft take part in early morning exercises, their rotors echoing across the desert floor.

Capt. A., a National Guard maintenance test pilot who trained in Alabama to fly the Apache and can’t be fully identified, strides onto the flight line to conduct a preflight check. He opens up an engine nacelle and looks inside. He climbs atop the aircraft and inspects the rotor blades. He carries a high opinion of the Boeing rotorcraft he operates.

“I like it because it’s the best attack helicopter in the world — for its capabilities, the amount of equipment it can hold, the size of the tanks,” Capt. A. said. “The more we get into the systems, the more I appreciate the aircraft and the people who build them.”

AH-64E rotorcraft

Tim Rader trained Saudi National Guard mechanics to become self-sufficient in servicing the Apache before becoming a Boeing field service representative in 2019 to assist the Indonesian Army with its eight new AH-64E rotorcraft in Semarang.

Rader joined the U.S. Army specifically to become an Apache mechanic after seeing it up close at an air show. He and the attack helicopter continue to evolve together.

“I have the best job in the world, but eventually I want to end up in Mesa designing things,” said Rader, now pursuing an engineering degree online. “Then I’ll be one of those people who gets called by the field service reps.”

Story by

Dan Raley

Photos by

Bob Ferguson

Videos by

Tim Reinhart

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