Maintainers save man-hours with AFSO21 changes to E-3 inspections

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt Arthur Gilbert
  • 552nd Maintenance Group
When aircraft maintainers think of inspections, their minds can go crazy with thoughts of preparation and increased workload.

However, the men and women of the 552nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron Maintenance Flight here at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., saw the E-3 Sentry Isochronal Inspection process as an opportunity for improvement.

When someone asked the question, "Why can't we do this inspection yearly instead of bi-yearly?" -seeds of change were planted. And the ISO Team began a search for the answer.

With the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO21, mindset - and an open mind for change - a new process began to take shape which requires a single yearly inspection per aircraft.

The improved process, although different, is not without precedence: other 707 airframes throughout the Air Force currently use a yearly inspection cycle. Armed with that information, the Maintenance Flight started talking to the Oklahoma City-Air Logistics Center and Air Combat Command Director of Logistics.

"The new process has a better flow and allows for easier identification of bottlenecks, which can then become other opportunities for improvement," says Senior Master Sgt. John Martin, 552nd EMS Maintenance Flight chief.

The previous requirement was for "A" and "B" portions of the ISO inspection to occur yearly, staggered six months apart for each E-3. This allowed for the completion of 48 inspections per year at Tinker, while eight inspections where completed by the Pacific Air Force Sentry squadrons at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Kadena Air Base, Japan.

At the beginning of 2007, the new process was approved, documented in the Inspection Technical Orders, and began its use as the new standard for inspection.

So far, the benefits of the new process are robust: workload man-hours have been reduced by more than 50,000 hours. The time saved can now be spent on training, implementing Time Compliance Technical Orders, and correcting delayed discrepancies. In addition, for PACAF Sentry squadrons this means that the aircraft is available to the command for an extra 60 days at Kadena and Elmendorf.

"The men and women in the Maintenance Group constantly challenge ourselves to improve everything that we do," said Lt. Col. Andre Kennedy, 552nd Maintenance Group deputy commander. "Any time change is suggested you must have buy-in at all levels, and the 552nd Maintenance Group is sold on positive improvements."