News Release, NAVAIR News
COMMANDER, FLEET READINESS CENTER, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.–The day starts early for Cmdr. Jeff Brown and team at the Aircraft-on-Ground (AOG) cell as they prepare for their teleconference with squadrons from Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic to check the status of short-term down Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and determine what is needed to get them flying again. They will connect with Strike Fighter Wing Pacific later in the morning.
Located at Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet (CNAL) in Norfolk, Virginia, the newly formed AOG is an element of the Naval Sustainment System (NSS) model, implemented last fall, with a focus on building long-term collaboration among naval aviation stakeholders by bringing together experts from all lines of support to quickly resolve constraints of short-term down aircraft.
The concept has proven successful in the commercial airline industry and naval aviation has already started to see results.
“Bringing needed parts from Boeing and Northrop Grumman, as well as those organically manufactured by the FRCs, has returned 94 unique aircraft to mission-capable status since its inception in October,” said Brown, from Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC) in Patuxent River, Maryland. “This not only increases readiness immediately it will also have positive ramifications for years to come.”
Brown sits before a large screen that lists each AOG aircraft by BUNO. At the table with him are representatives from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP), Weapon Systems Support (WSS), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Navy Type commanders (TYCOM), along with engineers, data analysts and industry partners.
Maintenance material control officers and master chiefs from each squadron are on the phone while Brown leads the teleconference through the list of aircraft, BUNO by BUNO, addressing each constraint and getting answers on the spot, in real time. He knows the intricacies of each aircraft and who to go to for solutions.
“This problem-solving process occurs every day, several times a day at the AOG,” Brown said. “During a recent spike in Door 68 discrepancies, we were able to spread multiple doors across four repair sites and get the matter resolved in a matter of weeks. Otherwise they would have taken maybe six months to repair all at one site.”
His take-charge and amicable leadership styles are well received by the stakeholders on the phone and the problem solvers around the table. Asking the status of a component, he quickly gets answers or a way forward.
This is apparent as Brown asks, “How long will it take? Do you have the tracking information for that part?” while looking directly at the person responsible so there is no question as to who has the action. He also reiterates who is responsible for which actions.
David Ferreira, director, Maintenance Operations Center and deputy director for Aviation Material Readiness, noted that Brown is the right person to lead the AOG.
“You talk about continuous process improvement then you’re talking about everything Cmdr. Brown is doing. He is full of energy and is all about the team.”
The team-oriented atmosphere is apparent with every person in the room sharing the same goal and willingness to take ownership if a constraint is their responsibility.
The team also extends to COMFRC Headquarters as Aviation Maintenance and Production (N42) directors, Tom Carpenter and Capt. Grady Duffey, interact regularly with Brown and provide entry points into the FRC sites, since they know which sites have the capability and capacity to respond to AOG requirements.
“Cmdr. Brown is certainly missed at COMFRC HQ, but we know he is absolutely the person who should be leading this effort,” Carpenter said. “At COMFRC, he had a birds-eye view of what it takes to produce readiness in multiple aircraft communities across naval aviation and uses that knowledge to empower his team and focus on the tasks at hand.”
Typically, there are 40 aircraft in-scope at AOG at any given time. To gain the attention of the AOG, the aircraft must have flown in the last 160 days and must have less than 10 issues to be addressed. Exceptions may be made for aircraft at risk of becoming long-term down without AOG intervention or if the down aircraft limits the wing’s ability to conduct operations or meet readiness standards.
“This is what’s needed to address and address quickly the reason for the aircraft not flying,” said Ferreira. “AOG gets to the root of the problem and quickly solves it.”