JROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — The Air Force Reserve went live with an app that is expected to save time and stress for aircraft maintainers late last year, with an estimated 100 users to be enrolled by February.
Headquarters Air Force, AFRC, and Monkton teamed up to create an iOS modern mobile app that enables maintainers to directly access the maintenance database from the flight line at the point of aircraft repair. This eliminates the need to secure their tools, go to back to their office and log into a network computer to document the maintenance actions performed.
The BRICE app, or Battle Record Information Core Environment, was designed with all the necessary Department of Defense security and authentication required to allow the maintainers to input, store and transmit data in real time to the maintenance database.
“Maintainers didn’t have a convenient way to input their maintenance actions into the system of record.” said Maj. Jonathan Jordan, Headquarters Air Force Reserve A6 logistics IT policy and strategy branch chief. “They have to travel to a desktop computer, go through the sign-in procedure for both the computer and the maintenance data system, then they can enter the data for the maintenance performed on the flightline.”
During user acceptance testing at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, 81 percent of testers estimated the app saved an hour or more of time per day.
“Live data availability is paramount for field units to take swift maintenance actions and schedule work orders as changes are occurring across the flight line,” said Christopher Butigieg, Headquarters Air Force project delivery manager. “Additionally, returning time back to maintainers is an added benefit as task documentation is completed throughout the day rather than at the end of shift.”
Because the data entry can occur in real time by using the new app, there is a greater probability of accuracy and less steps involved compared to the current steps of writing notes on a piece of paper and transcribing them into the database later from an office.
Some of the challenges overcome with development of the app were overwhelming security documentation requirements and connectivity challenges on the flightline. Through a partnership with Monkton, Amazon and Verizon, the team was able to create a secure path to take the modern technology and interface with a legacy database system securely from almost anywhere according to Jordan.
“Over the past couple of years there has been a paradigm shift from desktop computing to mobile. This application provides a friendly and easy-to-use interface that is familiar to an everyday mobile users,” said Butigieg.
He said the app performs the same desktop computer actions on a handheld device and typically more efficiently by utilizing on-device hardware and software.
The biggest benefit is improved quality of life according to Master Sgt. Daniel Brierton, AFRC A4 Directorate,Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, eTool Functional Manager, A4 Directorate, Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection.
As someone who has worked in aircraft maintenance for 10 years Brierton knows how the workload has changed especially when the maintainer shortage was at its peak.
“When we signed up for aircraft maintenance, the image in our head was not sitting at a desk,” said Brierton. “Maintainers are here to fix jets. This effort aides maintainers by reducing time spent on documentation, transit, and legacy IT systems.”
According to Jordan, if each maintainer saved an hour of time by using the app, as many reported in the acceptance testing, this would result in over five million hours of recouped time on maintenance tasks Air Force-wide.