Australian DoD Selects Phase Maintenance Manufacturer in Montana


Military Aviation MRO


Australian Department of Defence


UH-60 Black Hawk Phase Maintenance System

The Australian Army needed to find a phase maintenance stand provider for its new UH-60 Black Hawks. The DoD reviewed several suppliers in the United States, looking for ones that could:

  • Offer a product providing complete access to the aircraft for depot-level maintenance,
  • Provide the platforms in accordance with ANSI safety standards,
  • Modify the platforms for conformance with Australian air and electrical systems, and
  • Offer the product and installation within budget.

Spika was ultimately selected to perform the design modifications, manufacturing, and on-site installation in two locations.

UH-60 Black Hawk Phase Maintenance Platform at Australia DoD


Problem Description

In 2012, The Australian Army was scheduled to receive a new fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and required work stands to perform depot-level maintenance on them. The Australian Department of Defence lacked the resources to design and manufacture the work stands themselves, as the stands had to conform precisely to the aircraft and adhere to ANSI safety standards for mobile work platforms.


Engineers from the Australian DoD inspected work platforms from several manufacturers in the United States, including Spika’s UH-60 Black Hawk Phase Maintenance Systems. The engineers analyzed the platforms for:

  • Access and interface with the aircraft,
  • Quality manufacturing and design, and
  • Safety compliance.

They also reviewed the suppliers’ ability to provide a product that would be issue free, since it would be difficult to source parts and repairs from Australia.

The DoD engineers evaluated Spika’s UH-60 Phase Maintenance Systems at a Louisiana National Guard facility and Sikorsky’s plant in Beeville, Texas. The stands utilized friction-locking sliders to ensure tight conformance to the Black Hawk and provided direct and easy access to the engine and tail rotor. The stands facilitated simple connection of staircases to various stations around the system and provided 12” (30 cm) of manual actuation for both platforms and stairs. The system incorporated safety features that met OSHA and ANSI safety standards for mobile work platforms.

After a review of all suppliers, the Australian DoD ultimately selected Spika to provide four complete UH-60 Black Hawk Phase Maintenance Systems and two additional mid-ship decks to facilities in Queensland and New South Wales.

Contract Performance

Spika modified the system per Australian and DoD requirements, then manufactured and shipped the systems to the two locations in the Commonwealth.

The Spika team scheduled a three-day setup at each location in order to complete two full-system setups at each facility. However, due to a carrier’s delivery error, three complete systems and one mid-ship deck arrived at the first location, while only one complete system and one mid-ship deck arrived at the second. With the DoD’s schedule goals as priority, the Spika installation team worked around the clock to ensure all three full systems were installed on time in the first facility. The remaining setup was then completed at the second facility. The Spika team also led in-depth training sessions for each facility on how to properly use the equipment.

An Unforeseen Challenge

During setup, it was discovered that some railings on the tail stand did not properly interface with the tail of the Australian Black Hawk. When Spika’s president and lead designer recognized the issue, he immediately began working on a new design for the railing. It was quickly sent it to the DoD free of charge in order to minimize as much as possible the impact on maintenance operations.


The Results

Spika was able to ensure that the product the Australian DoD received met or exceeded all of the electrical and safety codes of the Commonwealth while employing the proven features and components that have made Spika platforms recognized within the US military. Additionally, Spika’s experience in meeting the requirements and demands of federal contracting ensured a smooth performance of the foreign military contract.


The UH-60 system conformed precisely to the engine and tail rotor on the US Black Hawks and incorporated user-friendly, ergonomic elements to promote efficiency.

– On-Site Set-Up Coordinator

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