Cannon slims aircraft transfers

Staff Sgt. Sarah Johnson, 523rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, performs a final preflight inspection on an F-16 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., on Feb. 9 before it is reassigned to the Des Moines Iowa Air National Guard. What was once a 16-day transfer process has been whittled to five days after more efficient methods were developed as part of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Randi Flaugh)

Staff Sgt. Sarah Johnson, 523rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, performs a final preflight inspection on an F-16 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., on Feb. 9 before it is reassigned to the Des Moines Iowa Air National Guard. What was once a 16-day transfer process has been whittled to five days after more efficient methods were developed as part of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Randi Flaugh)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Huddled in a small conference room with walls covered in post-it-notes, representatives from Cannon, Air Combat Command and the Air National Guard whittled a 16-day process of transferring Cannon's F-16s down to five. 

For the past week, these representatives worked as part of the Transfer/Acceptance Inspection Rapid Improvement Event to develop a lean process for transfer of aircraft throughout the Air Force as part of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO 21). 

"We are setting a template for the Air Force," said Maj. James Rich, 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron commander. "In the past, every time we [transferred jets], we would reinvent the wheel." 

In a memo from Brig. Gen. P. David Gillett Jr., ACC Director of Logistics, about the Cannon F-16 transfers, the general points out that over the past few months ACC has been looking intently for opportunities in leaning out the process of aircraft transfer and acceptance inspections. 

"My intent is to work toward an enterprise solution that [within boundaries] gives [Major Commands] the decision authority in deciding the depth of inspections, and to put a fresh set of eyes on our processes," according to General Gillett. 

"Putting a fresh set of eyes" on the process is exactly what is happening, according to Mr. Tom Adair, ACC AFSO 21 Office. "We ask the people who do the job how to do it better and teach them about the Lean Process." 

"The key thing about lean is reducing waste," said Mr. Adair. For example, if the aircraft transfer and acceptance inspections can be streamlined, then a unit can reduce a 12-hour workday to a standard eight-hour workday and give Airmen weekends off. Not only is it working smarter, but it would also be a huge boost for morale.