Dover maintainer cashes in on award winning idea

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- A Dover reservist is $10,000 richer thanks to a suggestion that will save the Air Force millions of dollars each year.

Master Sgt. Andrew Calvello, an aircraft engine mechanic supervisor with the 512th Component Maintenance Squadron, submitted the idea through the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program.

Sergeant Calvello's shop is responsible for repairing and rebuilding the auxiliary power units, or small engines, that are standard on every aircraft.

According to the 27-year-veteran, a common repair on an APU is the tailpipe. Maintenance guidance stipulates the entire APU, at a cost of $127,000, be replaced if a tailpipe is broken.

"I designed a way for only the tailpipe, which costs $3,000, to have to be replaced," said Sergeant Calvello.

The air reserve technician said his suggestion tweaked the program to the point where maintenance workers no longer have to do the repairs in the shop.

"Now we take the tailpipe right to the plane and replace it on the spot," he said.

Sergeant Calvello said he doesn't plan on spending the money any time soon.

"I have a 16-month daughter Madison and I've put the money in her college fund," he said.

The IDEA program gives cash awards to all Air Force military and federal civilian employees for sharing their ideas on how to save the Air Force money.