The first U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey slated to receive improved nacelles arrived at Bell‘s [TXT] plant in Amarilllo, Texas on Sept. 21.

Last December, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded Bell and Boeing [BA] an $81 million contract for the nacelle improvements for CV-22s. “The contract covers completion of non-recurring elements, fabrication of nine kits, and installation of one kit,” Bell and Boeing said. “NAVAIR has an option period to cover fabrication and installation through 2025.”

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has said that its highest priority for the CV-22 has been modifying the engine nacelles to improve engine reliability and reduce the amount of required touch maintenance and the amount of sand, dust, and other particles ingested by the engines.

AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. James Slife  told reporters on Sept. 20 at the Air Force Association Air, Space & Cyber conference that the command is “singularly focused right now on sustainability improvements in the CV-22 fleet” and that “the initial results of the nacelle improvement program tests have been very, very favorable, and we’re looking forward to pushing all our airplanes through a nacelle improvement modification in the coming years” (Defense Daily, Sept. 20).

Slife said that he visited Bell’s plant in Amarillo two weeks ago and that the first CV-22s are expected to begin receiving the nacelle improvement modifications in the coming weeks.
In 2019, mission readiness for the Marine Corps MV-22 and the AFSOC CV-22s fell below 60 percent.
Bell and Boeing have sought to increase V-22 mission readiness rates by 10 to 12 percent through removing 8 of the 10 wiring interface boxes on the aircraft’s nacelles, changing wiring types, and through nacelle structural upgrades, such as latch changes.

“Approximately 60 percent of [CV-22] maintenance man hours are spent in the nacelles,” per the companies. “Bell Boeing successfully engineered more than 1,300 new V-22 part numbers to help improve reliability and maintainability of the nacelles while also reducing repair time. The improvements are predicted to increase aircraft availability and reduce maintenance time.”

The companies said that NAVAIR completed the first flight with nacelle improvements on a Marine Corps MV-22 test aircraft on April 23–testing that is to inform the CV-22 nacelle modifications in Amarillo and Fort Worth. The companies are to finish that work in 2025.

The MV-22 shares the same nacelle structure as the CV-22.