Fairchild Airman innovates KC-135 nose gear maintenance operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick J. Daniello
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

An Airman from the 92nd Maintenance Group used his innovative ideas to potentially save the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet more than $1 million in parts and man-hours by creating a unique piece of equipment.


Tech. Sgt. Shawn Roberge, 92nd MXG aircraft structural maintenance section chief, had the idea of creating a nose landing gear door lock. This part will alleviate damage to areas surrounding the underbelly of the Stratotanker.


“The KC-135 has areas prone to damage,” Roberge said. “One of the major areas is where the nose landing doors catch on the outside fuselage skin, tearing it from the current frame design.”


Roberge researched the root cause of this common repair, finding that holding the nose landing gear doors up with the web-belt strap was causing a significant amount of stress to the doors, damaging the fuselage skin enough to delay mission requirements.


After multiple designs, he developed a part that would rest inside the landing gear well that will hold the doors closed. This results in no additional stress on the nose landing gear door or the outer frame of the Stratotanker.


Roberge created the part with aluminum, keeping it simple, sturdy and durable. This new part is one fourth the weight of his previous steel design.  


“This will affect the Fairchild mission two-fold,” Roberge said. “We’re going to cut the installation time on this part drastically and it’s going to alleviate all [outside fuselage skin] repairs.”


On average, it takes 48 hours and $4,000 to complete a repair due the damage on the nose landing gear doors caused by the web-belt straps. If the new part is implemented across the fleet, this simple, yet effective, innovative device could save the Air Force more than $1 million.


“This is the kind of innovation we are constantly on the lookout for: rapid and effective solutions to daily problems,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Greenawalt, 92nd Maintenance Squadron commander. “In solving these kinds of problems, we give back to our most valuable resource, Airmen, their most valuable resource – time.”


Roberge has submitted this innovative idea to the Air Force Spark Tank 2019. The submission is now at Air Mobility Command for review and, if approved, it will continue to climb the ranks until he is a finalist in the competition. As a finalist, Roberge would be flown to Orlando in February 2019 to compete and be judged by the final panel that includes the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.