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Moody Airman's innovation 'triggers' AF-level change

Senior Airman Jacob Del Tedesco, a 23rd Component Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems craftsman, unscrews a right-handed grip from an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Aug. 11, 2016. Del Tedesco found a more timely and cost-effective way of repairing the grips, which led to an Air Force-wide change to the maintenance guidelines used for repairing them. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

Senior Airman Jacob Del Tedesco, a 23rd Component Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems craftsman, unscrews a right-handed grip from an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Aug. 11, 2016. Del Tedesco found a more timely and cost-effective way of repairing the grips, which led to an Air Force-wide change to the maintenance guidelines used for repairing them. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) -- One maintenance Airman used attention to detail paired with problem solving skills to remove unnecessary and costly stages of maintenance that will save the Air Force money, resources and manpower.

Senior Airman Jacob Del Tedesco, a 23rd Component Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems craftsman, triggered a change in maintenance guidelines to A-10C Thunderbolt IIs across the Air Force by identifying a more efficient way to repair slew switches used for navigation and targeting.

“It’s one of the most repaired parts that we maintain,” Del Tedesco said. “For the last three years, I have seen upwards of a hundred of these turned in for repair.

“Every time we have to turn in (a right-handed grip) saying (the slew switch) is bad, we’re paying another $13,000 to get a new one,” he added. “If you have four or five go down in one day like we did, that’s $65,000 in one day (and) that’s not good.”

Not only does one repair cost the Air Force thousands of dollars, but according to one pilot, it limits their ability to accomplish the mission because the slew switch is used for locating and tracking targets.

“It drives us pilots nuts when it doesn’t work, because you cannot use your targeting pod,” said Maj. Matt Shelly, the 23rd Wing director of inspections and A-10C instructor pilot with more than 1,185 hours in the cockpit. “In a combat scenario, this has to be fixed before we can fly, because I can’t support a ground commander with a targeting pod that’s basically dead weight on my wing. If you don’t have that you can’t search, can’t find your targets or follow (moving) targets.”

After witnessing more than 100 right-handed grips being turned in for the mission-crippling slew switch issues, Del Tedesco knew he needed to dig deeper into the problem to find a more cost-effective solution.

Del Tedesco began reaching out to fellow maintainers and engineers, researching technical data and wiring diagrams and troubleshooting his way to a fix he felt confident taking to his leadership.

The improvement is extremely cost-effective and no new parts are required, Del Tedesco said. Now it just requires four screws to be removed and adjusted to a precise setting, which corrects the correspondence between the switch and the display screens.

Although the fix may seem small, in the grand scheme of things, Del Tedesco is proud to leave an imprint on the Air Force’s A-10C fleet.

“It feels good that I did something that will definitely stick out,” he said. “I always wanted to make sure that, if I were to get out or move to another base, everyone that I worked with would have learned something from me. This will be one of those things that they can take from me, and it’s going to be in the book, so other people across the Air Force will look at it.”

Maintenance leadership recognizes the impact Del Tedesco’s out of the box thinking has on the maintenance community.

“I’m impressed,” said Col. Shane Barrett, the 23rd Maintenance Group commander. “It facilitates the long run (and) becomes a long-term effect. Who knows, that technique might stay in the book for the next 20 or 30 years. It collectively moves the maintenance team forward to affect good maintenance on the airframes. The idea is the airplanes are combat-ready so we can generate combat power for the nation when we’re called to do so. That’s what it’s all about.”

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