Naval Sustainment System

Aviation Machinist’s Mate (ADAN) Airman Jomarleo Mangohig and ADAN Brice Brogan with Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122, the fleet replacement squadron at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., inspect the left Door 68 on an F/A-18 Super Hornet. (U.S. Navy photos by Andrea Watters)

Naval Aviation’s New Aircraft-on-Ground Cell Expedites Readiness

The day starts early for Cmdr. Jeff Brown and his team at the Aircraft-on-Ground (AOG) cell as they prepare for their teleconference with squadrons from Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. They will check the status of short-term down Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, determine what is required to get them flying again and connect with Strike Fighter Wing Pacific later in the morning.

Located at Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia, the newly formed AOG, part of the Naval Sustainment System initiative, builds long-term collaboration among Naval Aviation stakeholders and experts from all lines of support to quickly resolve the 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.

“By bringing needed parts from Boeing and Northrop Grumman, as well as those organically manufactured by the FRCs, the AOG returned 133 unique aircraft [by May 1] to mission-capable status since its inception in October,” said Brown, from Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC). “This not only increases readiness immediately, it will also have positive ramifications for years to come.”

Many of the discrepancies on Door 68 are typically around Hole 25, pictured above. Once the Aircraft-on-Ground cell became aware of the issue, training was instituted to prevent further damage. (U.S. Navy photos by Andrea Watters)

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 fewer than 10 issues. There are exceptions 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 quickly address the reason for the aircraft not flying,” said David Ferreira, director, Maintenance Operations Center and deputy director for Aviation Material Readiness. “AOG gets to the root of the problem and quickly solves it.”

Brown sits before a large screen that lists each AOG aircraft by bureau number (BuNo). At the table with him are representatives from Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support and Defense Logistics Agency, along with Navy type commanders, 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.

“This problem-solving process occurs every day, several times a day, at the AOG,” Brown said.

For example, during a recent spike in Door 68 discrepancies, the AOG was able to spread multiple doors across four repair sites and resolve the issue in a matter of weeks, Brown said. “Otherwise, they would have taken maybe six months to repair all at one site.”

Located on the underbelly of the aircraft, Door 68 includes both the left and right panels that encase the engine. Because of their size and weight, they must be opened using proper technique. The rise in discrepancies, particularly on the right door, prompted the development of a training video that reduced the number of discrepancies.

The AOG’s collaborative environment enables the fleet to not only expedite parts delivery but also address maintenance quality and training issues as they arise.

Andrea Watters, editor, Naval Aviation News, contributed to this article.