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Little Rock AFB Airman innovation saves $750K

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

At Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, the 19th Maintenance Group back shop was assigned an additional task of overhauling C-130J ramp actuators, which are responsible for locking and unlocking the ramp during ground and air operations. In order to overhaul an actuator, a safety fixture is required to house the actuator per regulations.  

In 2017, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Aaron Brown, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, came up with a way to protect the actuator and the Airmen overhauling it. While looking for a safety fixture to purchase, Brown realized they would be able to build it internally, in a timely and cost-effective manner.

“The C-130J ramp actuator was going to be a part we could now overhaul here in the back shop,” Brown said. “The tech data said we needed a safety fixture, something that securely holds the actuator through its operation check, mainly to provide safety to the operator and also to prevent the actuator from damaging itself or any of the other test equipment.”

After contacting other bases to find a safety fixture that would work, Brown discovered it would cost nearly $750,000 and take up too much space.

“So I just came up with this simple design to allow us to mount it vertically so it could extend upwards just like it does on the aircraft mainly to save space and also to prevent us from having to purchase a $750,000 piece of testing equipment,” Brown said. “Metals tech put it together and we mounted it out into the bay and tested it. Now that’s what we use.”

Brown was able to get the test fixture created at the aircraft metals technology shop on Little Rock AFB for $500, saving the Air Force nearly $750,000.

“The safety fixture prevents us from getting sprayed with hydraulic fluid, as well as prevents parts from flying off,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rodney Williams, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft hydraulics system craftsman. “It also prevented a work stoppage because we had four actuators on backlog while waiting for the fixture to be approved.”

The safety fixture enables regulated overhauling of the C-130J ramp actuators allowing the delivery of effective warfighter effects at the right place and the right time accomplishing the mobility mission.

The 19th Airlift Wing is hosting a Spark Tank style innovation competition encouraging Airmen to develop solutions similar to Brown's to more effectively and efficiently accomplish the combat airlift mission.                 

From now until mid-March, Airmen will have the opportunity to develop their written proposals that will be reviewed by the Wing Spark Tank Panel, made up of senior leaders and junior Airmen, who will select proposals for funding. 

Written proposals are due to group commanders by March 6 for presentation feedback and to the WSTP by March 13. The finalists will present their ideas March 21.