By: Capt Levi Almond, Boeing EWI Fellow
A Boeing KC-46A Pegasus with refueling boom extended. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Coinciding a fruitful month of winning bids for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, to include the MQ-25, MH-139, and T-X, Boeing is on track to deliver the first KC-46A Pegasus aircraft to the U.S. Air Force by the end of 2019.
A monumental effort is underway between the Air Force and Boeing to deliver and support the KC-46 moving forward. As part of this effort, Air Force Education With Industry (EWI) fellow Capt Levi Almond (63A) traveled to Boeing facilities in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with participants from the KC-46 Program Office Product Support Sub-Integrated Product Team (IPT), KC-46 Depot Activation and Sustainment Team, HQ Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC/A4), Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC/LG), Warner Robins Air Force Base (AFB), Hill AFB, and Tinker AFB depot teams, Defense Logistics Agency, 448th Supply Team, and Boeing Support & Training in support of Integrated Logistics Support Management Team (ILSMT) and Depot Maintenance Activation working Group (DMAWG) meetings.
As part of Boeing’s KC-46A Support and Training organization, Capt Almond is learning the ins and outs of logistics and sustainment planning for the tanker. The ILSMT and DMAWG meetings, which took place from 24-26 Sep 2018, provided an opportunity for the Air Force and Boeing to ensure all logistics Product Support Elements for the KC-46A are in place or on track for upcoming aircraft delivery. Accordingly, the Air Force and Boeing discussed a multitude of topics to include Support Equipment, Technical Manuals, Supply Support, Depot Maintenance, Aircraft C-Checks, and maintaining Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.
The KC-46 is unique as it kicks off an approach of acquiring FAA certified commercial derivative aircraft with military specific modification. The Air Force achieved “Meet the Intent” with the FAA, and intend on maintaining FAA certification throughout the entire aircraft lifecycle. The acquisition of commercial derivative aircraft certification added up front challenges, but opens the Air Force to numerous advantages such as access to commercial part pools, reliability data analytics, and commercial services.
While leveraging proven commercial technology to accomplish military requirements sounds great in theory, this approach has been met with many challenges. However, despite the initial growing pains, the Air Force and Boeing are engaged in a concerted effort to navigate the challenges involved in obtaining FAA certification and information integration into the Air Force’s technical manual process.
Commercial FAA technical manuals are authored with FAA certified Aircraft & Powerplant (A&P) mechanics in mind. Air Force maintenance manuals are highly process driven, so some commercial manuals did not initially comply with Air Force regulations. By working together, Boeing and the Air Force were able to obtain FAA “Meet the Intent” and will accordingly train Air Force maintainers with A&P skillsets in mind.
For his EWI fellowship, Capt Almond is currently imbedded with the Technical Publications IPT within KC-46 Support and Training. During this rotation, he is learning one small piece of the complex implementation of commercial derivative solutions to Air Force requirements. By the end of his tour with Boeing, Capt Almond will be well prepared for any future endeavors to apply proven commercial solutions to complex Air Force problems.
EWI, a program sponsored by SAF/AQH and managed by the Air Force Institute of Technology, is a highly selective, competitive non-degree educational assignment within an industry related to the fellow’s career field.
The program is designed to develop qualities and abilities in selected officers and civilians necessary for effective management, professional, and technical leadership; and to provide an understanding of organizational structure, management methods, and technologies of modern industry. By studying the best practices of industry, students are able to bring new knowledge, understanding, and empathy back into the Air Force to improve its processes. In turn, the company benefits by receiving the fellow’s experience and perspective.