SUMPTER SMITH JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ala. — When a part is unserviceable without a set of repair instructions and there are none, or very few, available in the supply chain, a select group of Air Force Repair Enhancement technicians Program (AFREP) finds a way to fix it. The team consults current maintenance publications to transform unserviceable parts without specific instructions into fully functional components ready for use in aircraft.
Air Force maintenance professionals must follow rigorous repair processes to ensure parts are fully operational and installed correctly. Technical orders, technical data, and wiring diagrams are some of the required publications that tell maintenance personnel how to do their jobs and in what order.
“AFREP is an innovative opportunity for maintainers to repair parts that don’t have a repair process,” said Master Sgt. AJ Robinson, Superintendent of Maintenance, 99th Air Refueling Squadron. “This program has several advantages because it puts mission critical parts back into the supply system, the unit, as opposed to a contractor, gets paid to do it and it’s a faster process for us to do it. .”
Robinson co-manages the core AFREP team with Staff Sgt. Nikolas Clevenger, avionics technician, 117th Maintenance Squadron. They started the program in March 2019 after they started talking about repairing the built-in hand controllers that Clevenger repairs. The part directs the movement of the aircraft, and Robinson once helped write a repair manual for the component before being posted to Joint National Guard Base Sumpter Smith. These conversations evolved into the creation of AFREP as Robinson had been the head of AFREP at Kadena Air Base and Clevenger became interested in its possibilities.
“Before Staff Sgt. Robinson came here, we were just ordering the parts to fix a component and we weren’t getting any money for it,” Clevenger said. “We didn’t have an AFREP account open at that time and now, unlike the Air Force buying a new coin, we get the money as a unit.”
Since its inception, the program has repaired 17 parts, saved approximately $153,000 on base units, and kept those funds within the Air Force. This money was used on the base to purchase rain and cold weather gear for the Airmen, maintenance tools, vehicles to address pre-flight maintenance issues in addition to base facility repairs. The AFREP program and maintainer innovation have increased flight efficiency and helped fellow airmen.
“There is pride in knowing that our work is funding equipment that increases mission effectiveness,” Robinson said.
The challenges maintainers face in keeping a KC-135 mission capable are universal. Finding parts for an airplane that is around 60 years old is getting harder because manufacturers are stopping making parts for it. Refurbishment of available parts is more important for the KC-135 as fewer resources are invested in the aircraft and directed to new airframes. In addition to its impact here, the repair capabilities of the local AFREP team can also hit any base.
“When a damaged part is placed in the supply system, we as the AFREP program can contact it and have it sent to us,” Clevenger said. “Once we fix it, the part goes back into the supply chain and any Air Force unit that needs that part can get that part repaired.”
The AFREP team can also find more cost effective ways to outsource a repair. They can also find suppliers willing to repair a part for a fraction of what it would cost a government contractor since contractors do not provide repair services and only produce new parts.
The wing needed anti-icing ducts and had to “cross” the ducts in order to make another aircraft airworthy. Cross cannibalization is a process of taking parts from one plane and installing them into another. Buying them from a contractor was supposed to take 30 days to complete. The AFREP team identified a supplier who could repair the ducts in two weeks in addition to significant savings for the unit. The new ducts were worth approximately $18,000 and AFREP was able to receive a fully operational repaired duct within two weeks at a cost of $1,300.
The repair was completed in April 2022 and was a huge success.
“It was a highlight as it was the first AFREP contract repair on a KC-135,” Robinson said. “We are aiming for this to be the first of a long series.”
The AFREP team received assistance in this transaction when 99th ARS Commander Lt. Col. Alfredo Balderas hand-delivered the conduit to the out-of-state vendor. Balderas was on leave and brought the piece to the seller while on vacation in Texas. After repairing the air ducts, the part was returned to base.
Clevenger and Robinson believe that local vendors provide exceptional value. Repairing parts from local suppliers can save both cost and time compared to buying new parts.
The AFREP team from the 117th Air Refueling Wing also assists a unit from Air National Guard Base McGhee Tyson to start an AFREP program and communicates regularly with an AFREP team established at Fairchild Air Force Base.
“We’re interconnected and we help each other by brainstorming or just sharing information,” Clevenger said. “If there are more units in the program, there are more ideas and more functional capabilities in terms of repairing parts.”
|Date posted:||31.08.2022 17:29|
|Location:||BIRMINGHAM, AL, USA|
This work, 117th Maintenance Airmen use the Air Force Repair Enhancement Program to save time and moneyby MSgt Jeremy Farsonidentified by DVDmust follow the restrictions listed at https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.