The 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Team Tinker recently achieved its yearly production goals for a second year in a row on the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the B-52 Bomber at Tinker Air Force Base.
The recent Art of the Possible milestone surpassed by Team Tinker involved the MRO on the B-52s in 2017-18. It included a decrease in the length of programmed depot-level maintenance dock flow days by an average of 18 percent, as well as a 40 percent reduction of in queue time.
565th AMXS Production Support Flight Chief Kristopher Clements said Team Tinker’s emphasis on the tenants of AoP included collaboration, recognizing opportunities and eliminating constraints, which proved essential to augment the PDM output processes on the 17 B-52s.
Considered the workhorse of the USAF, the B-52 Stratofortress, a long-range, jet-powered strategic bomber first introduced in the 1950s, has served as the U.S.’s immediate nuclear and conventional global-strike capability for more than six decades.
Clements, an Air Force veteran and Tinker AFB employee for the past 18 years, said the 565th AMXS is considered a mature Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex AoP organization on base.
“Team Tinker conducted numerous enterprise value-stream mapping events on the B-52s’ PDM line to swiftly return the B-52s back to the warfighter, despite facing significant challenges caused by the age of the aircraft,” Clements said.
“Team Tinker had several events to find out what was causing bottlenecks by identifying constraints during the pre-dock, inspection, repair, restore/ops check and post-dock gates; whether that be a process, a part or manpower,” he said.
Subject matter experts were brought into the events because “You get your best knowledge and ideas from the mechanics on the floor,” Clements said.
“The events also brought about numerous action items. Whether an action item spun off into another event because of a constraint(s) they discovered, or it was a ‘just-do-it’ type of action, everyone had an important role to play.”
Progress was maintained by a focus on event action item completion through recurring team meetings designed to keep everyone abreast of the status of the action items and how they were progressing.
The team also provided 30-, 60- and 90-day out briefs to keep senior leadership informed, Clements said.
The 565 AMXS also partnered with the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group and the Supply Chain to develop tactical and strategic solutions for temporary flap availability constraints while the wing flap management items subject to repair line was being established.
“Our B-52 Bombers operate in numerous conditions that can include salt and desert environments so as the airframe gets older our structures and sheet metal folks are challenged with more and more corrosion problems; mainly the engine struts, landing gear components and fuselage structural items,” Clements said.
“This year, we also met our output goal while we addressed even more challenges, including three overdue Aircraft Structural Integrity Program Time Compliance Technical Orders and 15 aircraft that needed unscheduled depot-level maintenance in order to meet inspection timeline requirements for the fleet.”
He said the team brought in the 424th Supply Chain Management Squadron, the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group, 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group, LPS (Propulsion) Program Office, B-52 System Program Office engineering, Defense Logistics Agency and our B-52 structures technicians for weekly meetings to resolve potential critical path impacts.
Of course, by incorporating AoP processes, Team Tinker now reviews every experience and provides stronger transparency and awareness. Since the B-52 is one of the Air Force’s oldest aircraft, issues still regularly occur with the aging bomber.
Clements said while the aircraft will always have issues due to its age, Team Tinker continues to use AoP-driven processes and Enterprise relationships to help revolutionize its use of the aging B-52s.
Jillian Coleman with the 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article.