The US Air Force’s (USAF) Air Mobility Command (AMC) has conducted the Phoenix Spark Tank competition as part of Secretary Heather Wilson’s innovation initiative.
Phoenix Spark Tank has been designed to encourage airmen of all ranks to offer new and modern ideas that would save time, money and maintain readiness.
Held at the Airlift / Tanker Association Symposium in Grapevine, Texas, US, the competition selected four finalists who proposed their innovative ideas to airforce leaders and VOX Space president Mandy Vaughn.
The four finalists were selected from the best 73 ideas submitted to the airforce idea scale portal this year and the winner of the competition was chosen from the USAF’s Little Rock Air Force Base (AFB) in Arkansas.
AMC commander general Maryanne Miller said: “Innovation is the engine of change. We need to outsmart, outpace, and outmanoeuvre future threats. Airman innovation will ensure this occurs.”
The first innovation proposal was presented by the 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron staff sergeant Travis Alton who demonstrated a low-cost 3D-printed time block fail-safe solution that would have the potential to eliminate all airdrop malfunctions caused by a faulty timer.
The second idea was proposed by 92nd Maintenance Group Fairchild AFB Aircraft Structural Maintenance Section chief tech sergeant Shawn Roberge, who developed a cost-effective aluminium part that would minimise repairs required between the nose landing gear doors and the fuselage skin of the aging KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.
Tech sergeant Eric Holton from the MacDill AFB presented the idea of a maintenance stand that would enable airmen to reach and repair the 12 o’clock position of an engine on the KC-135s.
437th Maintenance Squadron Joint Base Charleston tech sergeant Alex Aguayo and his team proposed a simple design that would enable airmen to paint C-17 Globemaster III tyres by stabilising the wheels on a bearing.
This has the potential to significantly reduce the time taken to paint and minimise the chance of damaging the wheels.
Miller added: “We’re going to send one on to the airforce competition, but we’re going to implement the other three.”