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Aircrew flight equipment shop to save $250K at Travis AFB

Employed on many Air Force aircraft, the quick-don mask is used to administer oxygen directly to aircrew to prevent loss of consciousness in the event of sudden loss of cabin pressure, and protect against the adverse effects of toxic and irritating fumes in the event of an aircraft fire. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Charles Rivezzo)

Employed on many Air Force aircraft, the quick-don mask is used to administer oxygen directly to aircrew to prevent loss of consciousness in the event of sudden loss of cabin pressure, and protect against the adverse effects of toxic and irritating fumes in the event of an aircraft fire. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Charles Rivezzo)

Senior Airman Abraham Sanchez demonstrates the process of repairing a KC-10 Extender quick-don mask July 24, 2014, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Sanchez is a 60th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Ayre)

Senior Airman Abraham Sanchez demonstrates the process of repairing a KC-10 Extender quick-don mask July 24, 2014, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Sanchez is a 60th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Ayre)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Earlier this year, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer challenged Airmen to look their area of influence and question what they are spending their money on.

“'Can we do it differently, do we have to spend that much for it?' They're questions we'd ask ourselves if we were sitting at home balancing our checkbook," Spencer said .

Answering the call of the Air Force's second in command, Airmen from Travis Air Force Base’s aircrew flight equipment shop questioned the norm of a well-established process that eventually led to a local annual savings of nearly $250,000.

Led by Staff Sgt. Keith Vaccaro and his team of technicians, the cost-saving initiative aimed at examining the entire Air Force inspection process of the KC-10 Extender's quick-don mask.

Employed on many Air Force aircraft, the quick-don mask is used to administer oxygen directly to aircrew to prevent loss of consciousness in the event of sudden loss of cabin pressure, and protect against the adverse effects of toxic and irritating fumes in the event of an aircraft fire.

Normally sent to an outside agency for repair or replacement, Vaccaro grew tired of having to play "musical masks" to sustain mission requirements and sought an alternative method to save hours and Air Force funds.

"Since an outside contractor was the one who modified, maintained and inspected the masks, we didn't have any guidelines or instructions to conduct any of the repairs," Vaccaro said. "Well, I've broken down these masks before and noticed that many of the repairs the contractors accomplished could be done locally in a fraction of the time."

Tasked with writing the guidelines for the mask inspection and maintenance process, Vaccaro and his technicians, Senior Airman Abraham Sanchez and Senior Airman Dominique Hailey-Cobb, meticulously outlined and photographed the step-by-step instructions to diagnose and repair common issues associated with the aging equipment.

Using the Air Force's Smart Operations for the 21st Century Program, they submitted their initiative to Air Mobility Command for approval -- leading to the entire KC-10 community to adopt this process as the new standard.

"The great thing about this AFSO21 initiative is that Staff Sgt. Vaccaro and his team noticed that all they had to do was simply tighten a couple of screws and replace a couple of items using the knowledge they already had from a different style of mask," said Senior Master Sgt. Michelle Klimo, the AFE shop superintendent. "It's just amazing to see how one simple, little idea and one staff sergeant's initiative can turn into a big deal Air Force-wide.

"In today's fiscally constrained Air Force with our limited manpower and resources, this was quite a score for aircrew flight equipment, not only here, but across Air Mobility Command."

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