Military Aircraft Maintainer Implements Modern, Common Sense Planning Tool That Helps Keep Planes In The Fight

Air Force Maintainers

Planes need regular maintenance, and military planes are no exception. However, the maintenance schedule needs to be consistent and focused on what is necessary.

New Type of Scheduling

Waterfall scheduling does just that for Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. The program was introduced by Senior Master Sgt. Paul Speer, superintendent of the 9th Aircraft Maintenance Unit for the 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Waterfall scheduling shifts the maintainer’s focus to working on planes based on mission requirements instead of just fixed scheduling. Capt. Kayshel Trudel, chief of public affairs for the base, said it gives them “the autonomy to focus their scope in real-time, empowering them to decide where their attention should be and on what targets.”

Speer gave an example saying that if four planes need attention, 25 percent of them go to each one, but if there are only three, he can use a third on each and have less of the priority items that need completion.

Metrics Improvements

Trudell said fix rates have risen in five months, and attrition rates have gone down by 10 percent. It’s also had some plusses for maintainers on a personal level. For example, the weekend shift has been eliminated, leaving more time for friends and family.

“While the ultimate goal was to improve the performance of our fleet and accomplish the mission at hand we knew neither could be accomplished without taking care of our airmen first.”

Senior Master Sgt. Paul Speer

Most importantly, it has cut a lot of the busywork out of the schedules. Dyess is not the only Air Force base using waterfall scheduling, though the B-1B Lancer bomber fleet uses it there. Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass is thrilled with the program.

Positive Changes

Two groups with the lowest morale are maintainers and security forces. Both groups had high suicide rates, according to info on the Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco.

There are not enough people and not enough time to tackle the monstrous task of maintaining aircraft. The hours are long, and the work is hard. One Reddit user commented in the Air Force forum, “Most of the guys that are 30 {years old) here legit look like they’re 50 years old. That’s how life-draining MX is.”

Speers waterfall scheduling is helping those in Dyess. Hopefully, it will help more maintainers throughout the Air Force.

Sources: 1, 2

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