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L-3 Communications Integrated Systems Applies P-3 Expertise

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by Staff Writers
New York NY (SPX) Mar 21, 2006
L-3 Communications has announced that its Integrated Systems (L-3 IS) subsidiary is working closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air/Marine officials to return the agency's P-3 aircraft to flight.

The CBP P-3 fleet was grounded recently after a crack was discovered in a wing corner-fitting by L-3 personnel performing heavy maintenance on one aircraft. After subsequent inspections identified similar cracks on additional aircraft, CBP grounded its fleet for the safety of its crews until all aircraft could be fully inspected and repaired as necessary.

Company officials recently briefed CBP leadership on an approach for returning the fleet to work protecting the nation's borders, and L-3 IS has begun work on several aircraft.

"Our team understands the critical role these aircraft serve and we have developed a plan in concert with CBP to safely and expeditiously return its P-3s to service," said Bob Drewes, president of L-3 IS.

L-3 IS, using the combined resources and expertise of its Texas-based integration centers and L-3's Vertex Aerospace field maintenance crews, is coordinating with CBP field sites to determine actions needed for each of the fleet's aircraft.

L-3 IS leads the industry in P-3 refurbishment and structural enhancement, and is currently working to sustain the U.S. Navy P-3 fleet until the P-8A aircraft, scheduled to replace it, begins service. The majority of the U.S. Navy P-3 work done by L-3 IS focuses on airframe and component inspection and refurbishment to ensure flightworthiness.

From reorganizing hangars to accommodate additional aircraft, to having industry partners ready to induct aircraft if necessary, L-3 IS has devoted additional resources to ensure the CBP fleet returns to flight rapidly.

In parallel with the efforts to return the CBP P-3s to flight, L-3 IS is working to develop a comprehensive, long-term sustainment plan for the agency's P-3 fleet that addresses the fatigue issues associated with a more-than 35-year-old aircraft type.

"Based on our experience with U.S. Navy P-3s," Mr. Drewes said, "we know it is possible to add at least 7,000 additional hours of inspection-free flight time to the airframes for a fraction of the cost of more radical solutions such as re-winging."

L-3 IS has more than 50 years of aircraft modification experience, and has modified more than 300 P-3 aircraft for many customers including the U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Greece and Canada. Continuing programs include major programs for the U.S. Navy, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Republic of Korea's Navy P-3s. L-3 IS recently completed modernization of the RAAF fleet of AP-3Cs under a program designated Sea Sentinel.

Related Links
L-3 Communications
US Customs and Border Protection

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