HomeNewsArticle Display

Pilot study aims to save money, protect environment with fewer oil changes

A simple change in Air Force oil change procedures may save the Air Force over $1 million per year, while also helping protect the environment.

Senior Airman Zachary Goodwin, electrical power production journeyman, collects an oil sample from a small engine at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., March 12, 2020. The sample is being collected as part of a pilot study to provide detailed analytics and potentially increase the lifespan of oil used in Air Force small engines. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)


A simple change in oil change procedures may save the Air Force more than $1 million per year, while also helping protect the environment.

Current regulatory drivers require installations to analyze the oil in small engines, including generators, annually and replace the oil completely at least every two years. The
Air Force Civil Engineer Centers Environmental Quality Technical Support Branch is currently leading a pilot study that evaluates the use of a standardized oil testing service to provide enhanced analytics and, ideally, allow for longer oil use.

“Historical policies requiring more frequent oil changes have driven higher operating costs than are required,” said Frank Castaneda, AFCEC air quality subject matter expert, who initiated the study. “Based on the extension of oil life made possible through viable analysis, the estimated savings across the Air Force is about $1.5 million annually.”

Power production shops at five installations are currently participating in the study:
Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever AFB in Colorado; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina.

“AFCEC contacted us last year and asked if we’d be interested in participating,” said Donnie Ray, aircraft arresting systems manager at the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB. “We figured it was a good thing for the Air Force to cut back on wasted effort and save money.”

As part of the study, small engines at each of the installations are sampled twice per year at a cost of $20 per sample. The installations mail the samples to the participating vendor, who then emails a detailed analysis report in approximately a week. The installation then uploads the report into the Air Program Information Management System for tracking purposes.

Oil that meets performance criteria may not need to be changed at the currently mandated two-year mark.

“Oil analysis results, and the parallel extension of oil life, reduces manpower necessary to change the oil on each engine, reduces waste oil disposal costs and saves on the costs of new oil,” said Stuart Wallace, a contractor supporting Castaneda’s team with the initiative.

In addition to manpower and cost savings associated with the effort, the detailed analytics can also provide early detection for impending engine problems and help identify the root cause of any issues that arise.

“Three of our engine oil tests failed due to fuel in the oil,” Ray said. “This allowed us to identify problem units and made it easier for us to troubleshoot. In another instance, we recently had a rear main seal go out, so we checked the previous report for metal particles. In this case, there was no abnormal wear or underlying issues detected, so we could confirm it just needed a new seal.”

The pilot study began in June 2019 and is now nearing completion. Once the study wraps up, Castaneda will provide a summary report to the AFCEC operations directorate, who can use it to promote internal policy changes and Air Force-wide adoption.

“This is just another example of how our environmental team is constantly looking for opportunities to save money while protecting the environment,” said Ben Kindt, acting chief of the AFCEC Environmental Directorate’s Technical Support Division. “Every dollar saved is money that can be used to support other essential mission requirements at our installations and across the Air Force."


Facebook Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: Amid a nationwide #N95 mask shortage, the @KansasGuard is helping state & local health officials decontaminate masks for…
Words of wisdom during this time where many are isolated. https://t.co/88FwIFS5bj
To keep them in the air, work must be done on the ground. #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/OMw68BPmYT
Check out iSeeYou360, a camera system paired to a near eye optic solution that allows the warfighter to watch their… https://t.co/DX1blNu7Fy
During #PoliceWeek and the rest of the year, we thank our #Defenders! 📸 U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino,… https://t.co/gfo1a6KXev
A 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer flies over the East China Sea during a training mission. The B-1 is a… https://t.co/XArTFVToQw
RT @AirNatlGuard: Although student flight cannot participate in National Guard #COVID19 relief missions, these @WI_Guard cadets are still f…
A @KentuckyGuard C-130 Hercules flies over the state as part of Operation American Resolve. The aerial demo was a n… https://t.co/ho6PItTBcx
RT @HQ_AFMC: Take time to #thank a #nurse for all that they do each day, during #COVID19 and beyond! #NationalNursesWeek https://t.co/PBt7z…
.@110ATKWCC served their local community by packaging food at South Michigan Food Bank during COVID-19. 🎥 U.S. Air… https://t.co/2ZGQ47FblR
RT @USAFReserve: AFE Citizen Airmen create face covers for unit/community -https://t.co/f2zFVa8dZX #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient #ReadyAF
Congratulations to the class of 2020 at Texas A&M @AggieAFROTC Det 805. As a work around the social distancing rest… https://t.co/GHXtrktETB
RT @AirNatlGuard: .@NMNationalGuard Airmen are on the move, providing relief during the pandemic: ✅ Driving 4,000+ miles to distribute PPE…
#ThankYou to our law enforcement Airmen. Defenders work non-stop to ensure the safety of our bases, our assets and… https://t.co/Rqeawx6aP3
#ThisDayinHistory Today in 1949, the Berlin Airlift ended, which brought millions of tons of food and supplies to… https://t.co/ZapjG9tTGM