Big Savings from a Small Innovation

U.S. Air Force Col. Chris Boring, 31st Maintenance Group commander, Aviano Air Base, Italy, listens while Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Marks, 31MXG Egress Technician briefs him on the first ever "Super Raise" procedure. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Col. Chris Boring, 31st Maintenance Group commander, Aviano Air Base, Italy, listens while Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Marks, 31MXG Egress Technician briefs him on the first ever "Super Raise" procedure, October 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

Egress Technicians from the 31st Maintenance Group, Aviano Air Base Italy, prepare a U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcon for Aviano's first "Super Raise" procedure, October 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

Egress Technicians from the 31st Maintenance Group, Aviano Air Base Italy, prepare a U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcon for Aviano's first "Super Raise" procedure, October 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

They’re about two inches in diameter and three inches long. They weigh heavy in your hand and to untrained eyes, they look like just regular bolts. However, these pins, milled to perfect dimensions and design specifications by our fabrication flight, will save our wing 1,500 man-hours and 480 non-mission capable hours annually.

The pins are used by Aviano Air Base’s egress shop, which maintains the base’s fleet of ACES II ejection seats. They perform a wide array of procedures to include seat inspections, installations, removals, and replacing expired components designed to protect F-16 Falcon aircraft pilots who have to eject. However, as Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Marks, 31 MXS, explains, “Because it’s tight in the cockpit, we don’t have enough space to replace parts on the seat, forcing us to remove the seat and the canopy. Then we take it to our shop, install it on a workbench, and then perform the maintenance.” Start to finish, a typical time-change job could take three technicians up to 24 hours.

The ordinary looking metal pins, however, enable technicians to raise the seat in the cockpit an additional two feet in a newly adopted procedure accordingly named the “super raise.” Staff Sgt. Patrick Gibbs, 31 MXS, states, “With the extra space, we can get under the seat and replace faulty or expired parts without taking the ejection seat out of the plane.” The same job now takes two technicians only three hours.

On Oct. 2, 2018, the egress shop completed Aviano’s first “super raise” under supervision of the 31st Maintenance Group Commander, Colonel Chris Boring. Col. Boring stated, “I wanted to personally assess risks associated with the new procedure to ensure we protect our maintenance Airmen. After reviewing the super raise in person, I am confident risks are very low with a huge payoff in mission capable hours.”

Mission capability has taken on a revitalized significance since the Secretary of Defense’s memo focusing on an 80% mission capability rate. The “super raise” is just one of the many innovations the 31st Maintenance Group is applying to reach that goal. The procedure is expected to save 480 non-mission capable hours every year, meaning 480 hours of additional F-16 mission capability.

The 31st Fighter Wing is now among numerous bases in Korea, England, Germany, and the United States that have adopted the procedure into local job guides. “The next step is for the Air Force to standardize it into the technical orders for all F-16 bases,” says shop chief, Master Sgt. Sean Tucker, “with the time and manpower savings, it just makes sense.”