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Bolt AMU: bringing the future faster

An Airman cleans the canopy of an F-35A Lighting II fighter jet.

Senior Airman Aaron Hooks, an F-35A Lightning II dedicated crew chief assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit, cleans the canopy of an F-35A at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 17, 2019. The 57th AMXS accomplishes on-equipment maintenance of assigned aircraft, to include aircraft servicing, before and after flight inspections, launch and recovery, munitions loading and accomplishment of scheduled/unscheduled maintenance requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie)

An Airman adjusts his headset while holding a tablet.

Senior Airman Aaron Hooks, an F-35A Lightning II dedicated crew chief assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit, speaks to a pilot over his headset at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 17, 2019. Hooks was selected to test the Mad Hatter program which combines multiple programs that the maintenance teams use in their everyday work life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Bryan Guthrie)

An Airmen touches a tablet.

An Airman assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron uses a tablet to check technical orders at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 17. 2019. The tablets will eventually provide technical orders, personnel trackers, work orders and more from one platform. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie)

An Airman holds a tablet with an F-35A Lightning II fighter jet in the background.

Senior Airman Aaron Hooks, an F-35A Lightning II dedicated crew chief assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU), uses a tablet to check technical orders at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 17, 2019. Bolt AMU has moved technical orders for the F-35 to tablets for convenience and flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie)

An Airman lifts his hands above his head to signal a pilot in a F-35A Lightning II fighter jet.

Senior Airman Aaron Hooks, an F-35A Lightning II dedicated crew chief assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit, signals a pilot at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 17, 2019. Their job is to see that aircraft are operationally ready by performing scheduled inspections, functional checks and preventive maintenance both before and after flights, and ensuring that the aircraft has been properly serviced with fuel, hydraulic fluid and liquid oxygen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie)

Three Airmen huddle around a tool box with a tablet laying on top of it.

Airmen assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit huddle around a tablet at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 17, 2019. Technical manuals provide clear and concise instructions for the safe and effective operation and maintenance of U.S. Air Force military systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE Nev. --

It all begins on the walls of a stereotypical conference room cluttered with large drawn out diagrams, procedures and step-by-step directions of how Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) gets their fleet of F-35A Lightning IIs mission-ready on a daily basis. Maintenance personnel and civilians are dispersed throughout the room brainstorming how to streamline maintenance procedures.

Bolt AMU is working together with organizations within the Air Force to provide new technological programs and to provide ready access to maintenance databases through tablets that teams can use planeside.

Kessel Run is an agile software development and acquisition program that works alongside Airmen worldwide

“These new programs are important for the Air Force because the quicker we can get to information, whether it’s about our job specifically or about our personnel, the better,” said Senior Airman Aaron Hooks, an F-35A dedicated crew chief assigned to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Bolt AMU.

Mad Hatter is the name of the team run by Kessel Run that is aiming to improve efficiency for the maintenance crews, and in return, offer more flight time for pilots flying the aircraft.

“The software being tested by the maintenance teams has the potential to increase combat capability for the warfighter,” said Capt. Michael Bell, the former Maintenance Operations Flight commander assigned to the 57th Maintenance Group. “Decreased maintenance down time means the aircraft is more available for flying operations. Lessons learned from these efforts can also help scope and scale future software acquisition projects.”

Maintenance teams have many technical orders (TOs) that must be followed properly for an aircraft to able to fly but sometimes finding the specific TO can be difficult for them under the existing system.

“Monocle is the specific app that was developed by Mad Hatter to address issues with search results for specific technical data that was needed to complete maintenance tasks,” said Bell. “Monocle has addressed this problem by built-in search logic that returns fewer and more accurate results for the maintenance teams. This helps the maintenance teams get to work faster and in-turn gets the aircraft back in the air.”

Bell said with the refined search capabilities of the new program, it has the potential to produce up to a 30% decrease in maintenance time for teams.

“If you have the information right there in front of you, on a screen that is constantly updating, it’s going to be the most productive and easiest way of keeping tabs on what’s going on,” said Hooks.

The tablets help maintenance staff while working on aircraft and they eventually will provide TOs, personnel trackers, work orders and more from one platform.

“The tablets are lightweight and easy to use,” said Hooks. “I can keep it on me at all times and keep my hands free while performing most maintenance tasks.”

The tests being conducted by Bolt AMU have the possibility of helping out other F-35 units down the road.

“Bolt AMU is a very interesting place because we get the opportunity to conduct a lot of tests,” said Staff Sgt. Oliver Gutierrez, an F-35A dedicated crew chief assigned to the 57th AMXS Bolt AMU. “We’re blessed to have the Kessel Run team here because the tests we do here have the chance to be implemented to the entire F-35 fleet worldwide.”

Airmen understand how they fit into the bigger picture when working on a project that can possibly help not only help the U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense but also foreign allies.

“We’re the start of all of it,” said Hooks, in regards to the Bolt AMU maintenance teams. “Which is cool because if it goes operational, that was something I worked on and I was one of the first people to test it.”

Advancements in technology are helping to make processes easier and more efficient, but maintenance professionals remain the heartbeat of the Air Force. Whether with cutting-edge software or an oily wrench, maintenance Airmen today are bringing the future faster.

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