Maintainers save man-hours with AFSO 21 changes

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Arthur Gilbert
  • 552nd Maintenance Group
When aircraft maintainers think of inspections, their minds may be filled with thoughts of preparation and increased workload; however, 552nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron Maintenance Flight members here saw the E-3 Sentry Isochronal Inspection process as an opportunity for improvement.

With Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century and an open mind for change, a new process began to take shape reducing the number of man-hours spent inspecting and freeing up the aircraft for missions.

When someone asked the question, "Why can't we do this inspection yearly instead of bi-yearly?" seeds of change were planted. The team researched the idea and now the E-3s require a single yearly inspection per aircraft.

The improved process, although different, is not without precedence. Other 707 airframes throughout the Air Force currently use a yearly inspection cycle. Armed with that information, maintenance flight officials started talking to the Oklahoma City-Air Logistics Center and Air Combat Command director of logistics staffs.

"The new process has a better flow and allows for easier identification of bottlenecks, which can then become other opportunities for improvement," said Senior Master Sgt. John Martin, the 552nd EMS Maintenance Flight chief.

The previous requirement was for "A" and "B" portions of the inspection to occur yearly, staggered six months apart for each E-3. This allowed for the completion of 48 inspections per year at Tinker Air Force Base, while eight inspections where completed by the Pacific Air Forces E-3 squadrons at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Kadena Air Base, Japan.

At the beginning of 2007, the new process was approved, documented in the Inspection Technical Orders, and began to be used as the new standard for inspection.

So far, workload man-hours have been reduced by more than 50,000 hours. The time saved can now be spent on training, implementing Time Compliance Technical Orders, and correcting delayed discrepancies. This means PACAF E-3s are available to the command for an extra 60 days.

"The men and women in the maintenance group constantly challenge ourselves to improve everything that we do," said Lt. Col. Andre Kennedy, the 552nd Maintenance Group deputy commander. "Any time change is suggested you must have buy-in at all levels, and the 552nd Maintenance Group is sold on positive improvements."

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