NCO awarded $10,000 for money saving IDEA

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Sherri Pierce
  • 157 Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
A New Hampshire Air National Guard sergeant came up with an idea that saved the Air Force thousands of dollars and earned him some cash, too.

Tech. Sgt. Frank Stephens was awarded $10,000 through the Air Force Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, or IDEA, program on Nov. 21.

The Berwick, Maine, native suggested a way to repair an F-108 cowling support rod that is usually disposed of when it fails to operate correctly. An F-108 cowling support rod holds open the engine cover of a KC135 Stratotanker while the engine is being worked on.

"After seeing several cowling support rods being tossed in the metal scrap bin and knowing what the cost of a new one was, I thought is was such a waste," Sergeant Stephens said. "So I took one apart and found out a spring retaining washer corroded away, keeping the rod from fully retracting."

Instead of ordering a new cowling rod, which costs about $800, Sergeant Stephens suggested replacing the corroded washer with a 26-cent stainless steel retaining washer.

The estimated first-year savings is $81,729.38.

"I was very surprised a simple suggestion could amount in such a savings to the Air Force," he said.

Sergeant Stephens found out about the IDEA program through his quality assurance manager and encourages everyone to make a suggestion to improve a process.

IDEAs can earn 15 percent of the estimated first-year savings with a minimum award of $200 and a maximum award of $10,000.

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