62nd AW achieves notable milestone

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The 62nd Airlift Wing achieved a notable milestone with the closeout of fiscal year 2014, the 62nd Maintenance Group ended the year with an overall mission capable rate of 87.1 percent, which marks the highest yearly rate ever achieved for C-17 operations at McChord Field. 

The mission capability rate is an important metric because it measures the percentage of time that aircraft are maintained in a mission capable condition.  This achievement resulted from dedicated efforts of all McChord maintenance personnel and support functions. 

Three important factors contributed to this success:  a sense of ownership of the process by McChord maintainers, innovation in the areas of fleet and production management and a strong focus on continuous process improvement.

McChord Airmen in the 62nd MXG are professionals who show great pride in their work.  Skilled five and seven-level maintainers are taught from day one that they own key processes and they are responsible for inspecting and repairing aircraft to the highest standards.  The goal is to not attain a certain percentage of fully-mission or partial-mission capable aircraft, but rather to produce the safest, best aircraft possible to meet mission requirements. 

"No truer words were spoken, supplying safe and reliable aircraft to the fight is our number one goal. We trust that the quality of maintenance is top notch for whatever mission we send down the road due to the fact that we see firsthand the importance of safety and reliability when it comes to everything we do in the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron," said Tech. Sgt. Jack Munis, 62nd AMXS flying crew chief.  "We, as aircraft mechanics, take great pride in everything we do whether it is a light bulb replacement job or an engine change, because you never know, that inoperative light bulb could possibly hinder the mission."

The challenge of managing McChord's fleet of 51 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft is daunting. 

During fiscal year 2014, McChord transferred aircraft to and from depot facilities 60 times.  The group completed 134 Home Station Check inspections which are two to three-day detailed inspections required every 120 days to enable continued safe operation of the aircraft.  Additionally, McChord's maintenance schedulers ensured that 865 Time Compliance Technical Orders or minor aircraft modifications were completed on assigned aircraft. 

To ensure effective scheduling, the 62nd MXG sought to maximize the use of concurrent scheduling to minimize aircraft downtime and maximize effective use of our resources. 

"Consolidating scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and focusing on delayed discrepancy planning during Home Station Checks has enabled us to provide more aircraft to the warfighter downrange," said Staff Sgt. Summer Mancilla, 62nd MXG TCTO monitor.  

Continuous Process Improvement is a fundamental component of the group's approach to performing maintenance. 

CPI is the prime driver for the 198 recommended improvements to C-17 technical orders submitted by group members over the past year.  Additionally, the group's partnership with Boeing engineers on Material Improvement Projects to address ways to improve the performance of the C-17 has positively impacted mission capable rates. 

McChord Airmen submitted 224 material deficiency reports to Boeing over the past year to empower this process.  Ultimately, CPI is most firmly rooted in the 62nd Maintenance Squadron and the recurring processes within HSC and our numerous industrial workshops. 

"Maintenance squadron leaders have committed themselves to improve our operations by removing the roadblocks identified by our personnel preventing execution of the unit mission in the most efficient manner without compromising effectiveness," said Mr. Kelly Williams, 62nd MXS Air Force Smart Operations 21 lead.  "Every process is looked at for improvement opportunity; even our meetings have been streamlined to ensure all commander program requirements are met with the minimum impact on the personnel creating and attending. 

"I believe the key to our successes in CPI has been the culture we have created to allow our personnel the freedom to address process waste no matter where it comes from and the willingness of our leaders to evaluate those concerns for possible mitigation or elimination."

McChord maintainers are charged with ensuring readiness for an $11 billion aircraft fleet and can rightly look upon fiscal year 2014 as their most successful year.  Achieving a mission capability rate of 87.1% is more than a metric, it is directly tied to aircraft availability for critical missions throughout the world for both combat operations and humanitarian relief. 

Despite this record performance over the past year, McChord maintenance personnel will stress ownership, effective production scheduling, and continuous process improvement to set the bar even higher over the next year.