AFSO 21 – Streamline on the Flightline

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Larry Carpenter
  • 92nd ARW Public Affairs
"Work smarter, not harder" is an appropriate phrase for the Air Force, especially in a time when Airmen are asked to do more with less. 

With focused emphasis on Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron facilitated a Rapid Improvement Event from Feb. 26 to March 2 to streamline the process of generating aircraft for missions. 

The generation process for an aircraft starts when the Maintenance Operation Control Center tasks the production superintendent with initiating the aircraft's preparation. The process continues until the maintainers present the aircrew with a ready aircraft. The current process takes more than eight hours; this includes time spent by the maintainers, boom operators and life support technicians making sure the aircraft is in the proper configuration. 

One of the proposed process improvements brought up during the RIE was having pre-established kits already built and ready to go. 

"Each kit would contain everything the crew needs to configure the aircraft," said Master Sgt. Brian Baldwin, security manager for the 92nd AMXS. 

Along with pre-built kits, the RIE is looking to reduce the aircraft generation time by changing the way pre-flight actions are accomplished. 

The new process will establish teams consisting of a maintainer, a boom operator and a life support technician that would perform all required actions on the aircraft together. This differs from the current process in which there are five different actions that take place independent of each other spread out over a period of time. 

"Having integrated teams instead of independent groups would allow more airplane configurations to get accomplished, and in less time," said Sergeant Baldwin. 

The MOCC creates an e-mail distribution list that allows information to be sent to key players to keep them informed, said Sergeant Baldwin. This would keep everyone involved in the process up to speed. 

This initiative would also establish a time frame or sequence to aid everyone in knowing where they need to be and when, said Sergeant Baldwin. 

Another option that came up during the RIE was providing wireless computer access to the maintainers while they're on the flightline. This would reduce the time spent traveling to and from computer terminals to input information and fill out forms. The technicians currently have to leave the flightline to accomplish this. 

"A wireless network is currently up and running, but the maintainers don't have the computers they need," said Sergeant Baldwin. "The ideal state would be to have computers imbedded on aircraft for maintainers. This would allow them to accomplish the same amount of work and have the information input 'real-time'." 

"Computer access would be huge," said Tech. Sgt. John Young, vehicles and aircraft configuration NCOIC with the 92nd AMXS. 

The 92nd Maintenance Group has recently received 40 computers that will eventually be installed in maintenance vehicles to help implement this initiative. 

The RIE also concentrated on making sure personnel roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. 

There was very little continuity before; therefore, information wasn't getting passed down, said Sergeant Young. "If we did nothing more than define roles and responsibilities, we would come out leap years ahead." 

The point is, though, not everyone needs to know everything, they do need to understand where they fit into the whole scheme of things, said Sergeant Young. By the time the RIE is over, personnel have an understanding of what's going on and, more importantly, what is supposed to be happening. 

The RIE's goals were to streamline the generation process, make the process effective and have an order of precedence to make it flow. It was an excellent brainstorming event that produced numerous ideas on ways to improve the process for generating aircraft to make it more efficient, said Sergeant Baldwin. 

The squadron is looking forward to evaluating some of the proposed changes by testing the process from start to finish and establishing a baseline, said Sergeant Baldwin. This would provide an opportunity to observe how the different personnel function together, and allow any bugs to get worked out. 

"If everything works out like we plan, the process should flow smoothly all the way through, getting planes generated as quickly as possible," said Sergeant Baldwin.
"Just providing personnel with the information they need will make the process run smoother," said Sergeant Young. 

As the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron continues to keep their birds in the sky, they will continue the pursuit of more efficient and effective ways to do business.

Editor's note: To date, the 92nd MXG has participated in 15 AFSO events. These include "Just Do Its", "Rapid Improvement Events" and other AFSO21 related projects . 

Just Do It initiatives can develop solutions to issues that do not require significant coordination or team efforts. These are projects that can be easily resolved. 

Rapid Improvement Events typically require about three months of planning.  Projects are long term-initiatives that cannot be resolved in three months.