Maintenance aboard CVN 69

ARABIAN GULF (Dec. 6, 2023) Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Carlos Avalos conducts maintenance on an aerial refueling store aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 6, 2023. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to support maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.

Sustainment Group creates software wizard to improve technical directive creation, execution

Fleet maintainers will soon have access to clearer technical directives (TDs) that tell them how to inspect or alter the configuration of aircraft, engines, training systems and support equipment thanks to a recently released software wizard developed by the Sustainment Group’s Configuration Management/Data Management (CM/DM) Department.

“TDs serve as the primary method by which Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) engineers provide instruction to maintainers in the fleet who actually modify weapons systems or conduct repairs,” said CM/DM Department Head Daniel Christensen. “Each year, between 1,000 and 1,500 TDs are generated by several hundred engineers throughout NAVAIR, and can range from one to hundreds of pages. They include all types of changes and bulletins and consist of information that cannot be disseminated satisfactorily by revisions to technical manuals. How a TD is written is an essential factor to how well aircraft are maintained. They are foundational to configuration and data management.” 

As the number of TDs grew over the last few years, the CM/DM team began to see the quality of TDs vary, according to Danny Cowart, CM/DM Technical Directive/Bulletins lead and the TD wizard’s developer. “We were seeing inputs that not only differed from user to user, but from submission to submission, such as dates and grammar. Submissions contained formats that deviated from ones specified in the standard operating procedure.”

“This meant there were constant iterations of TDs which caused delays in the release of the TDs to the fleet,” said Deputy CM/DM Department Head Edward Blackstone. “TDs could take one day, a week or longer, depending on the number and types of errors and how long it took the TD writer to respond.”

Developed over the course of six months and released in November 2023, the tool standardizes inputs from all 34 program offices (PMA) and Fleet Support Teams.

“It’s intuitive, providing users with an option or action from a drop-down menu. It gives them the opportunity, where appropriate, to provide additional information and to print out the TDs in Word or PDF,” Cowart explained.

“Eliminating the need for rework was our primary focus,” Blackstone said. “An added benefit is that the wizard reduced the need for specialized training when employees move to a different PMA.”

The team also scaled success in the wizard’s development by working with the DAiTA Group/Digital Network Applications Department, the same team that created the CM/DM Department’s Enterprise Change Management (ECM) Tool, another effort-saving wizard released in 2020. ECM provides a collaborative environment across NAVAIR for change management, engineering change proposals, technical directive reviews and approvals, and Configuration Control Board requests and directives packages.

“We explained that the TD wizard would be part of the ECM Tool so we wanted it to look seamless, with the same look and feel. They were familiar with the workflows and our requirements for functionality,” Blackstone said. “This relationship made the process of creating the TD wizard quicker.” The team continues to look for opportunities to apply the same winning formula to other challenges.  For instance, it is developing a similar tool for the Configuration Management Policy, called the 4130 wizard. It will standardize the Configuration Change Board (CCB) requests/directive packages process, which ensures all configuration changes are fully documented, well thought out and addressed by all stakeholders for executability and supportability, and delineates realistic implementation schedules for CCBs. 

“The TD wizard,” Christensen said, “is a win-win for both the NAVAIR workforce and flight line Sailors and Marines.”

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