Suggestion program awards Pa. guardsman $10,000 for A-10 innovation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Elisabeth Matulewicz
  • 111th FW Public Affairs
Necessity was the mother of invention for Master Sgt, David R. Austin, 111th Maintenance Squadron, who developed an A-10 External Fuel System Replacement Tester after the current tester became unavailable for purchase. He developed a new tester, submitted his idea to the NGB Suggestion Program and was awarded $10,000 on Feb. 5 after officials found cost savings of almost $600,000.

"The tester must be used whenever any of the three wing pylons that carry the external fuel tanks on the A-10 are installed," said Lt. Col Barry A. Orbinati, 111th Maintenance Squadron commander. "The cost to produce the tester through a private company was nearly $600,000; the unit's cost would be around $100,000 each. Austin used locally purchased items to develop a tester that could do all the required functions and be made locally with a unit cost of just over $1,600. He cut the time to field the tester from more than two years to only six months."

Austin also wrote the applicable technical data for the use of the tester to test multiple systems on the A-10's fuel system. While troubleshooting an A-10 fuel cell problem, field engineers from the Ogden Air Logisitics Center examined the tester and took its plans back to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.  They told Austin to submit an AFTO Form 22, Technical Manual Change Recommendation for its use. Earlier this year, they authorized the tester's use and incorporated it in the latest technical data.

Austin's other suggestion, an external fuel tank certifier, has cleared state and Guard Bureau levels and is being evaluated for use on multiple airframes.