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Skilled Airmen Save Air Force Money

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – With the Air Force facing budget reductions in a financially unstable environment, Airmen from the 22nd Maintenance Squadron are saving big money by manufacturing an otherwise expensive aircraft part.

The aircraft metals technology section now produces a boom azimuth pulley, which controls the left-to-right motion of a KC-135 Stratotanker boom, and is saving more than $9,000 per part.

A previous contractor stopped making the BAP, leaving the tankers’ manufacturer, Boeing Co., to find a new producer, said Master Sgt. Curtis Davis, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology section chief.

According to Davis, the contractor was going to charge $10,000 per BAP. They made 77 parts to distribute, but all 77 were below the specification standards. 

This failure prompted the Air Force to ask Davis if he could make the parts in his shop.

Davis made a BAP a year ago with only the blueprint and an old broken part from a grounded aircraft. His Airmen are also learning how to manufacture more parts.

It is a point of pride for the 23 Airmen who work in the shop to be the only ones Air Force wide currently capable of making this part.

“Sgt. Davis is the one who started it all, he’s a great teacher,” said Senior Airman Colton Fogler, 22nd MXS aircraft metals technology journeyman. “He’s the only one that’s been able to do it, and he’s teaching all of us.”

Davis has been tasked to teach other bases how to manufacture the BAPs and save the Air Force money.

“We make this part conventionally with no computer assistance,” said Davis. “This is all done through skill and trade.”

We are not only reacting to the needs of the Air Force, but we are also being proactive, said Davis. 

By making parts in advance, maintenance Airmen help fuel the tanker mission as well as save the Air Force both time and money.

The maintenance shop has already produced three extra BAPs so when another piece becomes damaged beyond repair, the part can be available immediately and with minimum delay.

“Fabricating the azimuth pulley at field level for a mere $500 versus $10,000 speaks volumes,” said Davis. “My shop is able to fabricate only what is needed to maintain our KC-135 fleet, avoiding wasted surplus and saving valuable tax dollars.”

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