HomeNewsArticle Display

JSTARS design fixture tool, saves Air Force estimated $500K yearly

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Quinn Smith, a sheet metal technician with the 116th Air Control Wing aircraft structural maintenance section, Georgia Air National Guard, explains the capabilities of the newly-created cowling fixture table April 3, 2019, at Robins AFB, Ga.

Staff Sgt. Quinn Smith, a 116th Air Control Wing aircraft structural maintenance section sheet metal technician, Georgia Air National Guard, explains the capabilities of the newly-created cowling fixture table April 3, 2019, at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. Eight Airmen from the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System team recently designed an innovative tool estimated to save the Air Force nearly $500,000 a year in cowling repairs for the aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Nancy Goldberger)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) --

Eight Airmen from the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System maintenance team at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia recently designed an innovative tool estimated to save the Air Force nearly $500,000 a year in cowling repairs for the E-8C Joint STARS aircraft.

The cowling fixture table, an approved tool intended for field-level repairs, was a response to a challenge set by leadership.

“The supply system could not meet the demand requirements for these cowlings,” said Col. Robert Nash, Georgia Air National Guard, 116th Maintenance Group commander. “We needed a sufficient capacity to support the warfighter.”

The cowling — the metal covering of the engine — is an integral part of an aircraft, and replacing a cowling comes at the tune of $80,000 per set.

“A bad cowling throws off the aerodynamics and could cause further damage,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Page, 116th Air Control Wing aircraft structural maintenance section supervisor.

Since a warped cowling renders the housing unsafe, close-enough isn’t a fix and the set would be turned in as unserviceable. One of the biggest advantages of the fixture is the ability to fix bent corners of the engine cowling with precision. The table includes a hydraulic press and measuring grid accurate to one-eighth inch, according to the structural maintenance technicians.

In addition, the maintenance table saves maintainers’ man-hours by doing multiple repairs on a cowling at the same time, enabled by the jig holding it in place. This translates to saving the 16 JSTARS and their crews from unplanned downtime when the aircraft are constantly needed for real-world missions, training and planned maintenance.

The table started merely as an idea, a desire for improvement during a meeting of the minds, the Airmen said.

“The professional skill set of the team enabled us to take one person’s vision and create something practical,” Page said.

The cowling fixture operators noted the more secure and safer benefits of using the table.

“The whole machine is adjustable,” said Staff Sgt. Quinn Smith, 116th Aircraft Structural Maintenance Section sheet metal technician, admiring the handiwork of his teammates. “It’s pretty ingenious.”

Airmen from the structural maintenance section went to their Guard and active-duty comrades in the aircraft metals technology section to discuss their needs. The metal experts designed and built it in a week, based on a description and list of requirements.

“That job was the culmination of every skill we use,” said Tech. Sgt. Luke Kessinger, 116th Aircraft Metals Technology Section craftsman and lead metals technician for the project.

Using refurbished items, the team built the table for about $400 according to Kessinger.

It would have cost around $300,000 to have a similarly capable table made by contractors, Page said.

Every detail they could think of was accounted for and tested on the table.

The design even took into account the finer details, such as the vitally important need to protect the rivet heads, noted Airman 1st Class Joseph Pierce, 116th Aircraft Structural Maintenance Section sheet metal technician.

As good as it is, the table is still being improved as it’s put into practice. And the Airmen will have plenty of practice.

The cowling issue has plagued the JSTARS mission for years and has been one of its biggest weak points, according to Nash. Since the problem couldn’t be solved on the supply side, it was maintenance that took up the slack, extending the life of the cowlings on hand.

“What good maintainers do is attack their weakness, and they make it their strength,” he said. “The mentality these maintainers have is that no matter what their circumstances are, they are never out of the fight. They are going to figure out how to make it, build it or otherwise produce it.”

Innovations such as the cowling fixture is one of many from able-minded, skilled professionals across the Air Force.

If a commander wants innovation, the people need the funding and time to find better ways of doing things, according to Nash.

“At the end of the day, when you put all this together — the ingenuity, the resourcing and the time — the dividends on the backside of that are huge,” Nash said. “You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.”

Engage

Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF Kendall addressed the @AirForceAssoc's Air, Space & Cyber Conference earlier today: "I intend to be relentless in…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF Kendall just finished addressing the @AirForceAssoc's Air, Space & Cyber Conference. The topics he spoke on includ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: Happy #DontAskDontTell Repeal Day! Honored to commemorate the repeal’s 10th anniversary with some of our LGBTQ Airmen & Gua…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Today launches the @AirForceAssoc's Air, Space & Cyber Conference! #ASC21 Among many notable speakers, Secretary Kenda…
Twitter
Department of the Air Force senior leaders will attend the Air Space Cyber Conference Sept. 20-22. DAF leaders wil… https://t.co/grfMC31QH1
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Senior leaders held a town hall event Thursday to discuss the Department of the Air Force's recent release of two dispar…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Wishing all #AirForce marathon runners good luck in this year’s virtual race. Happy birthday #AirForce and have a great y…
Twitter
.@KIRTLAND377ABW is one of three bases using a new mobile application to streamline munitions inventory processes.… https://t.co/VQIAzo82bJ
Twitter
Two F-117 Nighthawks visited the @144thFW, California, to conduct dissimilar air combat training missions. This mar… https://t.co/B4lZUbO19p
Twitter
Attending #ASC21 this year? Be sure to catch DAF leaders as they speak on the state of our forces, family, agile… https://t.co/BRupfkuxuR
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: Celebrating 74 years of @USAirForce Airmen breaking barriers and defending the high ground. Thank you to all #Airmen, past…
Twitter
The Air Force has a 74-year success record in airpower, and all #Airmen—past and present—play an important role in… https://t.co/DroXtLgOLv
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Happy 74th birthday to our great Air Force! https://t.co/xjRXwISSxK
Twitter
Special tactics Airmen assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, @AFSpecOpsCmd, concluded their response to aug… https://t.co/QAgSEOKdbB
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Happy 74th Birthday @USAirForce. We have come a long way and will continue to fly, fight, and win…#Airpower #AnytimeAnywh
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: For 74 years, the @usairforce has been protecting our skies and defending our nation. Happy birthday, #AirForce! https:…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF's message to #Airmen on the @USAirForce's birthday: "You’ve built a proud legacy over the decades -- the future wi…
Twitter
USAF tradition calls for the most junior ranking Airman and most senior ranking Airman present to cut the birthday… https://t.co/c6COZ5fcvf
Twitter
Today is our 74th Birthday! From humble beginnings in 1947, we stand on the shoulders of great Airmen who have hel… https://t.co/Y5l4gnGiBp
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,377,140
Follow Us