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727 SOAMXS Embraces Initiative to Bolster Maintenance Capabilities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marcus Storer
  • 27th Special Operations Wing

(CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M) -- Members of the 727th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron met throughout the month of March at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., to discuss a CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft improvement initiative.

The four to six month initiative was developed by Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry, Director of Logistics, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and is being used by the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Unit as they look to improve their ability to provide and sustain flight-ready aircraft at any given moment.

“There is no other war-machine in the Air Force inventory that can do the things the CV-22 can do,” said Maj. Eric Cranford, 727 SOAMXS commander. “However, due to operational requirements, the exacting nature [of the aircraft] coupled with a significant manpower/experience deficit puts us way behind the mark when it comes to providing enough iron to the 20th Special Operations Squadron.”

The 20 AMU supports the 20 SOS and their CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft, whose specialized airpower provides flexible vertical lift to aid in AFSOC’s mission sets. While AFSOC’s reliance on the CV-22’s capabilities foster a high demand for the aircraft, the 727 SOAMXS is not always able to provide flight-ready aircraft.

“The nature of AFSOC and CV-22 operations are very fast paced,” said Capt. Jonathan Edwards, 20 AMU officer in charge. “This new approach gives members the ability to bring up key issues that reduce ‘wrench time’ on the aircraft. This will help create more opportunities to exploit aircraft for future combat operations.”

The initiative is designed to boost the readiness levels of the 20 SOS aircrew by improving the 20 AMU’s maintenance processes. The initiative is a six month process that involves multiple steps such as data collection and analysis, Theory of Constraints solution design, proof of concepts, implementation of ToC solution and process stabilization.

“The ToC is a process management improvement methodology that emphasizes the importance of identifying system bottlenecks,” Cranford said. “Then one identifies ways to use their resources to ‘attack’ that constraint. [For us] this initiative is a way to ensure sustainability across the enterprise… not just at the 27th Special Operations Wing.”

This initiative has been tested out at three separate Air Force bases prior to coming to Cannon. The Air Force has chosen Cannon as the priority base for the future of the program and the 727 SOAMXS is using the initiative as their model for improvement methods.

“We are using this process as a way to find many seemingly unrelated causes, and see how they collectively affect the mission,” said Capt. Jonathan Edwards, 20 AMU officer in charge. “Flight numbers are low and the end goal of this process is to generate flexibility with our flying through increased stability in maintenance operations.”

The Theory of Constraints is being used to help generate increased productivity for the CV-22’s and the 727 SOAMXS as a whole. The squadron members involved in the initiative are still in the early stages of the work, but they have already seen progress with their efforts.

“We are already seeing immediate results with a few of our concepts,” Cranford said. “But we anticipate further positive impact as we implement these concepts across the entire spectrum of maintenance operations in the 727 SOAMXS.”

The end goal of these processes is to provide more stable and predictable schedules and working conditions for both maintainers and operators in the 727 SOAMXS and 20 SOS.

“At the end of the day, humans are my number one priority,” Cranford said. “[While] aircraft availability is pivotal to the execution of a flying program, concepts like [this] are a way to increase availability while reducing the constant demand on our most precious resource: the Aircraft Maintainer.”