Idea saves time and money for training pods

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Aileen Carter
  • Nellis Public Affairs
Chad Russ, Nellis pod shop manager and Joint Test, Tactics and Training (JT3) contractor, submitted a maintenance process improvement through the Air Force's Innovative Development Through Employee Awareness (IDEA) Program last year, and now his $230,000 cost-saving idea was approved and was implemented Air Force wide, March 5. 

It began with a reoccurring problem found in the Nellis Air Combat Training System (NACTS) pods, which is used to track aircraft activities and collect data during training exercises such as Red Flag and Green Flag. The shipping costs, maintenance time and costs prompted Mr. Russ' to seek better ways to repair the NACTS pods. 

These one-of- a-kind pods were suffering from water and environmental damage, which were penetrating the electrical components through the pods' nose cone assemblies. 

"We were looking for a good solution to keep the pods flying and at the same time provide some cost savings for the Air Force," Mr. Russ said. "We were trying to figure out a process to replace the water intrusion rings of the nose cones." 

Out of a fleet of 157, more than 60% were identified with this problem, Mr. Russ said.
Since there were no replacements for the NACTS and each pod had to be shipped individually to the manufacturer, it made sense to have the water intrusion rings, which prevented moisture from seeping in, repaired or resealed locally, Mr. Russ said. This manufacturer repair normally took up to four months. 

Mr. Russ' IDEA submission of the maintenance procedures will only take 72 hours to repair locally, said Jeffrey Ayala, Nellis IDEA Program manager. These maintenance procedures have also been adopted by the pod shop at Utah's test and training range, with total savings of $21,000 so far. 

The Air Force IDEA Program encourages submissions of process improvements and resource savings ideas by military, civilian and contract employees.  Monetary awards are available to military and civilian employees only.

Mr. Russ said he is happy to have his idea approved and save time and money for the Air Force. 

"It's great for the Air Force because it shows a total combined effort from contractors, military or civil service employees trying to save money," said Jeffrey Ayala, Nellis IDEA program manager. "This also makes dollars available for other essentials, such as equipment, and allows for reinvestment into the Air Force." 

To learn more about the Air Force IDEA Program, contact the Nellis IDEA program manager at (702)652-9076 or refer to Air Force Instruction 38-401.