EMXS team develops cost-effective method to save AF thousands

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Being your own customer can be a good thing.

That concept works especially well when it comes to Robins electronics technicians who troubleshoot and test the Combined Altitude Radar Altimeter, a critical system used on many Air Force aircraft. It not only measures altitude, or the aircraft's distance from the terrain, it also allows aircraft to fly at low levels to infiltrate and exfiltrate adversaries in combat situations.

While past repairs have been made on the system by the 567th Electronics Maintenance Squadron, team members sometimes faced obstacles in procuring parts that are manufactured and repaired by outside vendors.

Team members developed a way to ensure the parts needed to make the repairs could be maintained organically. They were able to formulate a cost-effective troubleshooting and repair procedure for the dual power supplies utilized in the CARA system.

"We manufactured our own interface cables that allowed us to remove the power supplies and access individual circuits. This in turn allows us to probe the circuitry to gather information for troubleshooting and repair," said Vic Brookshire, 567th EMXS electronics integrated systems mechanic.

Initially the team developed a procedure utilizing several boxes to test the power supplies. Through research, trial and error, they were able to replace several electronic test boxes with the CARA flight line test set, which has been used on aircraft for many years.

By using the flight line test set, several steps were eliminated and thousands of dollars were saved in procurement cost and maintenance of test equipment.

"There were eight different stages we had on the initial work bench with different pieces of equipment," said Ditwan Meadows, 567th EMXS electronics integrated systems technician. "Now we have a setup that allows us to troubleshoot the power supply, fix it right here at Robins and put it back into the supply chain."

The technical order that was developed by the team can be easily followed, and has essentially created a new organic workload at Robins.

The process has been approved by Robins Engineering and Quality Assurance staff members, equipment specialists and Program Office staff.

"It's all about the ability to fix our own problems in-house without having to wait," said Jeffery Tharpe, 567th EMXS CARA supervisor. "In this case we're able to meet the warfighter's needs here and now."

There have been other success stories at Robins regarding savings. On the CARA line, while thousands of dollars have been saved to date and millions more to be saved over the lifetime of the system, the concept of being your own customer allows the Air Force to control parts required for repair.